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{The honest-to-goodness truth 

If we had j ust removed the roof. 


When we set out to create the C5 Corvette; 
winning awards was never our intent. That said, 
it's always nice to be recognized by automotive 



( We'rt 1 proud to announce that the C5 Corvette is the 1 
recipient of the 1998 Motor Trend Car of the Year Award, f 

cognoscenti, Our aim was to make a sports car that 
handles superbly, whether a coupe or a convertible* 
To achieve that end, it was critical that we didn't 
chop the top off a coupe and call it a convertible. 


Rather, we had to design the newest Corvette as 
a convertible right from the outset, It was the 
best way the only way in our minds, to make 
a car with extraordinary feel and handling. 

Sti ffness rnd Stren gth We didn't want this car to 
suffer from the ride setbacks other convertibles 
typically have. One particular concern was how 
to av oid cowl shake, a common side effect of 
removing a car's roof. So, we made the structure 
very rigid. The previous 48-piece frame rails 
were replaced with twin seamless hydro formed 
tubes. Our new hydroformod frame rail is much 
more durable than a welded-up one* In fad, the 
structure was tested to endure up to three life¬ 
times of Corvette usage* And not only is the C5 


By David Hill, Cor\ 



. I 


The C5 was designed w ithout a roof from the beginning so we 

four-and-a-half times stiffer structurally than its 
predecessor, it also has a lower curb weight. 

The difference in rigidity is immediately notice¬ 
able; lateral shake is virtually gone. Ride and 
handling are coupe-like. 





















































about the C5 Corvette, after all.} 

it would have b een a tra gedy. 


ette Chief Engineer 



could make a world-class sports caret's also a convertible, j 
A User-Friendl y Convertible Once we perfected the 


structure, our next priority was to make every 
millimeter of the car work for the driver, especial¬ 
ly in terms of comfort, spaciousness and cargo. 
We wanted the car to be easy on the driver, a rare 



feat in convertibles. So, the controls and functions 
were placed where it would be natural to reach 
for them. Entry and exit are easier because door- 
sills are almost four inches lower. We've increased 
the hip, shoulder and leg room. There is four times 
more cargo space with the top down than with a C4. 
Partly responsible for this are the run-flat tires, 
which make a bulky and weight-adding spare tire 
unnecessary, (The instrument panel will alert drivers 
when a tire needs air.) These measures were taken 
simply because we wanted customers to avoid 
inconvenience wherever possible. 

Power and Performance An obvious worry was 
whether we would lose the true spirit of a sports 
car by making it too civilized. We went to great 
lengths to keep that spirit alive. The newest 
Corvette has an aluminum small-block V8 that 
produces 345 horsepower at 5600 rpm, 350 Ib.Tt. 
of torque at 4400 rpm and, in coupe form, achieves 
a 175-mph top speed. 

Although it delivers more horsepower and 
torque than the iron version it succeeds, the 
C5 engine weighs 44 pounds less and is smaller 
in size. Basically, we packed more power into a 
more compact unit. We could keep the hood line 
low, which would improve both aerodynamics 
and driver visibility 

flMm y No Compromises Perhaps the most vocal 
customer opinion was that they wanted a no¬ 
compromise sports car; they didn't want to 
sacrifice ride comfort for the sake of performance. 
We found breakthrough methods to meet those 
requirements. Like the composite, balsa wood- 


cored floor. It minimizes vibrations for the cockpit 
occupants, while being both lightweight and 
strong enough to help deliver a more fatigue- 
free driving experience. 

The stiff new structure and revised suspension 
also demonstrate how there are no take-aways in 
the new convertible. By shifting the transaxle to 



( Design attributes like the nostalgic waterfall make 1 
the new C5 immediately recognizable as a Corvette. ) 


the rear, we opened up more leg room. This also 
freed up room for a structural tunnel down the 
middle of the car, which increased its rigidity. 
That rigidity lets the suspension do its job proper¬ 
ly; instead of compensating for chassis flex H it 
can focus on the most important things: precise 
handling and a smooth ride, 

TVk? Next Corvette The C5 convertible proves it is 
possible to marry high performance with top- 
down freedom. Simply put, this thing is incredi¬ 
ble. Even more than the coupe, it will far exceed 
people's expectations. It even exceeded mine. 

See why on the showroom floor. 



Call 1 “800-950-2438 
or visit www.chevrolet.com 


t t e 































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The BfC-7000 s unique dual 
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£$ \ 






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tQutput shown printed on Canon HR-101 pacwc said separate^. ttSottware designed for use with Windows® 05, and available on CD-ROM only. 'Manufacturer's suggested retail price. Dealer prices may vary. ©1997 Canon Computer 










Their new 7-color printer. 


There's one important 
difference between our Seven-Color 
Ink System and theirs: we 
have a Seven-Color Ink System . 



Let's just say they're lacking 
in the nozzle department 




Do they have Canon Creative 3 software? 

> . , „ (Here's a hint: No,) 

Print true photo-quality output on 

plain paper. Oh, wait t that's the printer 

an the other page. Never mind. 



No Edge- To-Edge Printing. 
But you can always fill in the 
borders with colored pencils. 



can print these incredible [mages on plain paper, with 100% water resis¬ 
tance. You won't find all of these features in any other inkjet printer. As for 
the price, at $449; we'd ask you to compare it to the other printers in its 


class. But thafs impossible. To get more information or to locate a 
Canon dealer in your area, visit our Web site at www.ccshcanon.com 
or call us at 1-800-848-4123. See what we mean’.” 

Canon 


Systems. Inc. Canon and 8JC are registered trademarks and Bubble Jet. Ink Optimizer, Ptiolofteaiism, Plain-Paper Optimized Printing, P-POP and ‘See what m mean" are trademarks of Canon Inc. In Canada, call 1-BOD-2B3-1121. 











Sparky’s Pet Store 



DISHES 


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intxupor uit!L? AD rinks, i curved. Adotw , tb* Adube logo, Adobe PageMaker and Adobe Acrobat are festered jfademaifrs o\ Adobe Systems Incorporated, 














To Acrobat PDF. To CD.lt runs across media [Ike a puppy 
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“Could you possibly 

be any more 


199S Microsoft Corporation. AN righto reserved. Mkirosoft, ActweSync. Expedie, PowerPoint, and Widows ere either rogtsterad ijademarKs 
or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation In the United States arhVor other countries. 










Powered b y/jgfr 

"WSMwsce 



What, getting real work done on the move? That’s 
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by isuit Wndows. CE 2.0 These H/PCs are available 
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It’s just like having the best of your PC with you 
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And if your flight gets delayed? Review your schedule, 
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To find out more about Handheld PCs powered by Microsoft 
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productive?” 


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160 

Wealth Is Overrated 

And other heresies, as pronounced by Peter Drucker. 

By Kevin Kelly 

168 

We the People 

Jedermann explores the many faces of American culture. 
By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt 


6.03 March 1898 


146 

Carbon Copy 

Meet the first human clone. By Richard Kadrey 
Plus: G. Richard Seed claims he is doing God's work. 

156 

Legion of Doom 

it's not just the world's most popular PC game - 

for people like Sverre Kvernmo, it's a great career move. 

By David McCandless 

162 

Hack the Magic 

The exclusive underground tour of Disney World. 

By Scott Kirsner 

170 

Breaking the Law of Gravity 

Skeptics had a field day when a scientist claimed in 1996 
that gravity could be negated. Now his findings are being 
investigated in laboratories worldwide. By Charles Platt 


152 

Crop Circles 

Steve Alexander rounds up mysterious patterns. 

By Tom Claburn 

154 

Reverse-Engineering the Psyche 

Evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker on how the 
mind really works. By Harvey Biume 


a 


































71 

79 

89 

99 


31 RANTS & RAVES Reader feedback 
37 WIREDNEWS What happened 
39 PEOPLE Name-dropping 
41 ELECTRIC WORD Appetizers 
65 FETISH Technoiust 

NEW MEDIA 



HDTV rebel Barry Rebo, 

the science of making babies.... 

THE NEW ECONOMY 

China's Yellow Pages, 
embracing "offshore" employees.... 

CRUCIAL TECH 

Ant wisdom for the Web, 

Telecom goes Qwest.... 

THE NETIZEN 

Looking at Lawrence Lessig, activists 
prepare for the post-CDA age.... 



76 Tomorrow Today What's coming 

86 Updata The rest of the story 

96 Hype List Deflating this month's overblown memes 



lie ELECTROSPHERE 


Cyber beats By David Bats tone 


125 STREET CRED Consumer reviews 
132 Just Outta Beta Product previews 

138 Best Great stuff - tested and approved in our top-secret labs 
148 Deductible Junkets Meetings of the minds 
142 IdeeS Fortes Instant cultural literacy 

204 NEGROPONTE 













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7 







A ZE R S 


HE tP I NG IMPROVE 




PERFORMANCE 


.Ar- 

Anc 


THUR 

DERSEN 


At Arthur Andersen, our business is helping you to improve your business. 
With dedicated professionals drawn from many disciplines and our 
Global Best Practices 5 " knowledge base, we work with you to develop 

THE VISION FOR YOUR COMPANY THAT WILL BEST DELIVER STELLAR RESULTS. 

WE CALL THIS VISION BUSINESS PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT. 


http'llwumarfhumtderseri com 
©1997 Arthur Andersen. All Rights Reserved. 










w 


THE AWARD. 

We’re looking for an idea in communications that 
will change the world. Entry is open to everyone. 
Buzz Aldrin, Laurie Anderson, lames Burke, Edward 
de Bono, William Gibson, Tibor Kalman, Lachlan 
Murdoch and Richard Saul Wurman will select the 
most world-changing idea. Then we’ll change the 
winner’s world. They’ll receive US $100,000, made 
up of US $50,000 cash and US $50,000 worth of 
communication expertise from our global network. 
To discover more about our Award for Innovation in 
Communication, visit http://www.saatchi-saatchi.com. 
And to learn more about Saatchi & Saatchi’s vision, 
please contact our worldwide Chief Executive Officer, 
Kevin Roberts, on e-mail: kroberts@saatchiny.com. 




Editor in Chief: Katrina Heron 

Executive Editor: Kevin Kelly 

Creative Directors: John Plunkett and Barbara Kuhr 

Managing Editor: Martha Baer 
Senior Editors: Peter Leyden. Spencer Reiss 
Associate Features Editor- Jackie Reunion 
Editorial Production Director William 0 Goggins 
Senior Associate Editor: Amy Johns 

Associate Editors: Mark Frauenfelder.Todd Lappin. Jessie Scanlon. Brad Wieners 

Senior Section Editor: Kristine Kern 

Section Editors: Jesse Freund, Bob Parks 

Senior Research Editor: Michael Behar 

Research Associates: Heidi Kriz, Patricia Krueger 

Copy Editors: Steve Mo liman, Mark Nlchol, Anne Speed ie 

Editorial Assistants: Catharine Lo.Ted Roberts 

Interns: Jennifer Hlllner {Research}, Carrie Chang (Edit) 

Contributing Editors: Chip Bayers, David S, Bennahum (New York}, Cotin Berry 
(Music), Gareth Branwyn, John Browning (Europe). Jeff Greenwald, Jon Katz 
(Media), Oliver Morton {Science}, David Pescavilz, Steve G. Steinberg (Technology], 
Rogier van Bakel 

Contributing Writers: John Perry Barlow. Thomas Bass, Stewart Brand, Po Bronson. 
Jon Carroll, Douglas CoupFand, David Diamond, Esther Dysonjoe Flower, 

SEmson Garfinkel, Masha Gessen, William Gibson, George Gilder, Mike Godwin, 
Fred Hapgood, Bob Johnstone, Jaron Lanier, Andrew Leonard, Jacques Leslie, 
Steven Levy, Pamela McCorduck, Paula Parish Phil Patton, Charles Plate 
Joshua Quittner, Rudy Rucker, Paul Saffo, Michael Schrage, Evan L Schwartz, 
Peter Schwartz, John Shirley, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Gary Wolf 
Senior Columnist: Nicholas Negroponte 


Design Director:Thomas Schneider 

Senior Designers: EricCourtemanche, Susanna Dulkinys 

Designers: Katja Grubltzsch, Charlotte Ng, Barbara Radosavljevic 

Junior Designer: Paula Ltikey 

Photo Editor: Aaron Caplan 

Photo Associate: Jennifer Butler 

Contributing Artists: Erik Adigard, Glenn Bair, Lou Beach, Jeff Brice. Paul Davis, 
Giles Dunn, Matthias Duwel, Stan Gaz, Amy Guip, John Bersey, Tanya Inman, 

Tony Klassen, Micha Klein, Jonathan Louie, Jim Ludtke, Scott Menchin, Nick Philip, 
Brian Ralph, Rob Silver, Steve Speer 

Contributing Photographers: Chris Buck, Steve Double, Gabor Ekecs,Paul El ledge, 
William Faulkner, Aaron Goodman, Jill Greenberg, Thomas He I riser, Asia Kepka, 
Mark Leong, Norman Mauskopf, David McGJynn, William Mercer McLeod, 

Karen Moskowjtz, Bill Nation, Wendy Nordeck, Sylvia Plachy, James Porto, 

Mark Richards, Daniela Schmid, Klaus Schotnwiese, Nell Selkirk, Michael Sexton, 

Chip Simons, Eric Tucker, Will van Overbeek, John Wesley Lemon, Bill Zemanek 

Production Art Director Eugene Mosier 

Production Manager: Van Burnham 

Production Artist: Kristin Burkart 

Prepress Specialist: Brad Brace 

Production Coordinator: Tom Cl a burn 

Assistant to the Creative Directors: Adrienne Ellis 

Design Administrative Assistant: Carolyn Rauch 

Interns: Anna Goldwater.Ukiah Cunningham. Claudia Da 11 end drier 


Marketing Design Group Director: Dennis Michael Dim os 

Senior Designers; Amy Melker, Jeanne Bradshaw 

Production: Dave Jenne 

SysAdmin: Michael Wise 
Technodrone: Andrew Simas 

MIS Informant: Jonathan Wright 

HC: Ian 6aedit, Philip Ferrato, 

Chuck Luter, Ratka Popovit 

Coach: Charlie Jackson 

Patron Saint: Marshall McLuhan ' 

y 

"Violence is a quest for 
identity. The less identity, 
the more violence." 1 

Wired Ventures Inc, 

President; Jane Metcalfe 

Chief Financial Qfflcer/Chief Operating Officer: Jeff Simon 

Executive Assistants: Adam Messner,Trade Turmell, Michelle Carlson 


&193B Wired Magazine Group Inc, All rights reserved. 

Reproduction without permission is prohibited. 

Wired [ISSN 1059-1028) is a publication of Wired Ventures Inc. 

Printed in the USA. 

In Canada, International Mail Agreement #0501727 
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R A M & R Jv eW 




Digital Cynic 

So, 95 percent of the superconnected worship free 
markets, while only 59 percent believe In democracy. 
Is it some epiphany that employed, economically 
ascendant people should believe in free markets 
more than in democracy? Could it be that the uncon¬ 
nected - the poor, uneducated, economically stag¬ 
nated - believe less in markets and democracy not 
because they are less concerned citizens, but because 
they have been screwed by both? 

The connected folks are savvy about the work¬ 
ings of our economy: 50 percent believe that who 
you know is more Important in getting ahead than 
what you know. The unconnected ding to the pro¬ 
paganda that what you know counts. What does 
It say about opportunity in the US that the class 
universally viewed as the final product of a perfect 
meritocracy doesn't really believe that merit is what 
got them there? 

Clearly, the connected folks suspect that our 
democracy may actually be a sham. They believe 
that Bill Gates and Bill Clinton have an almost equal 
impact on the US .The unconnected cling to the 
ludicrous myth that a democratically elected presi¬ 
dent has more Influence on the country than an 
unelected, undemocratic, monopoly-building bil¬ 
lionaire. Who is the cynic, and who is the citizen? 
David Maizenberg 
david@mai7enberg.com 


Survey Says 

I cringe whenever unsupported conclusions are drawn from poorly 
designed surveys.The Digital Citizen survey (Wired 5,12, page 68} 
is an unfortunate example of this malady. 

Designed to measure levels of digitarconnectedness P "the survey 
in fact measures levels of affluence, it should come as no surprise 
that Individuals with enough money to afford a laptop, a cell phone, 
a beeper, and a home computer are also likely to believe in democracy, 
feel In control of change, and be optimistic about their future, Duh: 
the system works for them. Why would they feel any other way? 
Wired would have gotten the same result if the researchers had com¬ 
pared the attitudes of those who drive a Lexus to 
work with the attitudes of those who take the bus, 
Yet Jon Katz goes on to fabricate a cause-and- 
effect relationship that is completely unsupported 
by the study/'Clearly, there is now evidence that 
technology promotes democracy, citizenship, knowl¬ 
edge, literacy, and community," Katz writes.This 
is pure conjecture. In fact, the survey identifies a 
correlation only; It does not determine cause and 
effect in any direction. 

Lars Kongshem 
norge@access.digex.net 



Pollster Frank Luntz's secondary 
analyses of the Wired/A ierrill 
Lynch Forum Digital Citizen Survey 
results reveal that two people of 
similar age , race , education, and 
income are likely to have different 
views about politics and society if 
one is connected and the other is 
not (Full survey results at www 
.hotwired.eom/special/citlzen/J. 


Attention Deficiency 

What a frightening world this would be if attention became our cur¬ 
rency, for attention Is the currency of children, who scream at the top 
of their lungs until some haggard adult appeases their need for food, 
affection,et cetera (Wired 5.12,page 182), 

By motivating attention-getting behavior that disrupts society, the 
attention economy could have warped results. Face it, who gets the 

most attention? Charles Manson 
pops to mind. Of course, not all 
those rich in attention are crimi¬ 
nally insane. There's Madonna, 
jerry Seinfeld, and Michael Jor¬ 
dan. You can't criticize these 
people for what they do. But 
what about the guy who actually 
works for a living - the anony¬ 
mous Joe who fixes the pipes 
when they burst or the gal who 
puts the widget on the doohickey 
to make a microchip? Where will 
they fit in this new economy? 
Adam Schair 

juris50@dassic,msn,com 


Which Came First? 

Jon Katz's "The Digital Citizen" makes it dear that 
many people regard communications technology 
as the driving force behind social and economic 
change. However, in a modern capitalist society, 
technology is a tool to help us adapt to and manage 
change in an increasingly competitive world - it Is 
not some mysterious driving force behind change. 
Dave Amis 

kam76@dial.pipex.com 


Get Real 

"Attention Shoppers!" has some good points, but 
Michael Goldhaber's definition of attention as 
a "limited resource"that could completely replace 
money Is thoughtless. Economies have always revolved around phy¬ 
sical things - land, money, or some other tangible good that could 
be counted and sorted. Goldhaber's currencies of the future are meta¬ 
physical resources: attention, intelligence, desire, hate. While meta¬ 
physical resources can indirectly affect physical economics - think 
of brand names - they could never become the standard of currency 
in a physical world 
Kevin Hitl 

deadJock@ix.netcom.com 


WIRED MARCH 1098 












R A N T S & * Iv eW 


journey into outer space. 

Jeff Foust 

jeff@spaceviews.com 


Man Versus Machine 

While one can argue that manned programs like the space shuttle and the International 
Space Station are expensive and wasteful ("Lost in Space/' Wired 5.12, page 226), it is 
a leap of logic to thus assume, as Piers Bizony does, that sending humans into space 
is unnecessary and undesirable. 

Bizony falls into the old "humans versus robots" argument that has ripped through 
science communities for decades.This should not bean either/or proposition Jhe best 
way to study the solar system, and to search for evidence of past or present life on 
worlds like Mars and Europa, is through a combination of preliminary robotic missions 
and intensive follow-up studies by the most advanced, most knowledgeable, most 
innovative research devices yet known; humans. As development of reusable launch 
vehicles makes access to space less expensive, the same inner drive that led us across 
land and sea will compel us to 

Magic Kingdom 

Piers Bizony missed the most important aspect of 
the great space debate: the involvement of private 
enterprise Jhe satellite-based telecom industry gen¬ 
erates billions of dollars annually and provides thou¬ 
sands of jobs. NASA and JPL, by comparison, amount 
to chump change .The main problem with the Inter¬ 
national Space Station is not its lack of a mission 
-Jo see how people can live and 
work in space" - but its choice of 
partners. Forget Europe, Japan, 
and especially Russia.Go with 
Walt Disney. Disney World may 
be overhyped and expensive, but 
it still draws millions of people 
from around the world. Let's make 
the ISS the Epcot in space. 

Bill Stuckey 

bstuckey@bellsouth.net 


Fighting the Virus 

As a Bulgarian, I was extremely 
interested to hear David 5. Ben- 
nah urn's requiem of darkness 
("Heart of Darkness," Wired 5,11, 
page 226). The chorus of cyber 
pirates reaches all possible notes 
of this Vmso-Apocalypse Now. 
The"evil empire" is dead Jong 
live the "virus empire"! 

Sadly, the article demonizes 
thousands of talented Bulgarian 
programmers, many of whom 
work in top US companies and 
most of whom continue to fight 
the current economic crisis in 
Bulgaria - not with viruses, 
but with outstanding software 
creativity. 

Arthur Kordon 
kordon@sat.net 


Innocent Little Angels 

In "Virtual Danger" [Wired 5.11, page 118), 1 found 
a gem of a sentence:"Children continue to serve 
as pawns in America's culture wars," It is so true! 

No one consulted us about the laws designed to protect us. Why? 
Because those laws are really designed for the parents, ! mean, seri¬ 
ously, how will we be permanently scarred by porn? The Communica¬ 
tions Decency Act, the Platform for Internet Content Selection, and the 
Child Pornography Prevention Act serve the interests of parents who 
want to believe that their children are innocent little angels, Uh-oh, 

I better send this - here comes my mom, 

Sam 

bovine_duck jv@email.msn.com 


Portrait of the Artist as an Artist 

Steven Holtzman's comments in "The Artist of the 
Future Is a Technologist" {Wired 5.12, page 256) 
are the uneducated babble of an effete snob who 
wouldn't know art if it bit him in the ass. Art is only 
as good as the entity that creates it. The computer 
is just a new kind of paintbrush. It will always take 
true creative genius to produce great art, regard¬ 
less of the medium Jo say that Jhe future will not 
be dominated by any of these rare individuals" is 
no more than a tired '90s retread of the '60s cry 
"Power to the People!" 

Mahlon F. Craft 
kinukoyc@pcnet.com 


Get Wired. Online. 


www.wired.com 
Get breaking news and insiders' 
insights on the digital world, 
reported up to the minute. 

(miHEQNEWS 

www.hotwired.com 
immme yourself in the Webs latest 
tech, business, arts, and issues. 

H©T©|©E© 

www.Hotbot.com 
Find it with HotBot search services, 
offering the Web's best-rated search 
engine - the largest, freshest data¬ 
base for the most accurate results. 


www.newsbot.com 
Use NewsBot to scour the Web's 200 
top news sites automatically around 
the dock, tracking updates on the 
topics you choose. 


www.wired.com/wired 

Dive into the magazines recent issues, 

search our archive, or subscribe online. 

home.wired.com 
Wired Ventures homepage. 


Send your Rants & Raves to: 


Email: 

ran tsffiwired.cani 

Snail mail: 

MYerf,PQ Box 191826 
San Francisco, CA 94109-9866 


Editorial guidelines: 
guidelines@wired. com 

Editorial correspondence: 
editor&wircd.com 


Undo 

Bug Bug: Patti Maes worked with Yezdi Lashkarl, not Max Metral, programming Firefly's 
agents to learn from each other (Tattle/' Wired 5.12, page 236) . ■ Renamed: Empirical 
Media (Tattle," Wired 5.12 r page 236) became WiseWire Corporation during the first 
quarter of 1997, ■ Overeager Spellchecker:Two protons that collide in an accelerator 
("The Future Ruins of the Nuclear Age," Wired 5,12, page 240) are transformed into 
muons.® Horse Trade Jito Pontecorvo ("The Future Ruins of the Nuclear Age," Wired 
5.12, page 240} is holding the lead on the far right in the photograph on page 254. 

■ Price Fix:The Night Mariner 260 [Wired Tools, Wired 5.12) sells for US$2,495.® Illusive 
IllusionJhe term illusionaryattention ("Attention Shoppers!" Wired 5.12,page 182) 
should read illusory attention. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 













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Having a Web site is like having 


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<tt 1997 UUNET TecJjnologjes. In 
The UUNET lag<j trademark. 




HE INTERNET AT WORK 


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EM*GES: &EHWER5-LEE; L0US5 FAftlAN 0ACHHACf). 5-TEVE J065 C0U6TESY APPLE COMPUTER 



^HiH=El v iew* 


What happened, iy Dan Brekke 


Density Destiny 

IBM engineers in Silicon Valley 
doubled their previous record 
for magnetic storage media, 
packing 116 billion bits of data 
(725,000 typed, double-spaced 
pages) per square inch of disk 
surface.The dense drives will 
come to market within four years. 
In the process, the price of 1 meg 
of disk memory will shrink to 
3 cents (compared with US$11.54 
in 1988), Prediction; Bloatware 
will inflate as never before to fill 
up the cheap memory. 

Boom Tames 
Continuing economic turbu¬ 
lence in Southeast Asia raised 
fears that the global boom could 
flatten into a dead thud Worst- 
case scenario: China and Japan 
veer Into the Pacific Rim pileup, 
and slow the global economy. 
Less-drastic vision: Tech sectors 
hit the brakes as Asian customers 
run out of cash. Reality; The ques¬ 
tion isn't whether, but when and 
how deeply the effects will be 
felt outside the region. 

Tiananfnefi.gov 

Chinese officials concluded that 
although the Internet can be a 
great force for modernization, 
the information it carries can 
damage the state,So the govern¬ 
ment introduced rules to control 
content and punish anyone whq_ 
uses the Net to spread unortho¬ 
dox views. It was Deng Xiaoping 
all over again: encourage eco¬ 
nomic freedoms while maintain¬ 
ing rigid political control. But will 
the tactic succeed on the Net? 

The real test comes only when 
China's tiny Net population 
expands.The current tally is 
a mere 250,000. 


Our Censored Libraries 

Libraries across the country 
witnessed the first shots in a 
landmark legal battle. Citizens 
in Loudoun County, Virginia, 
challenged the growing use 
of Net-filtering tools by public 
institutions. The group, Main¬ 
stream Loudoun, argued that 
library officials in the county 
outside Washington, DC, tram¬ 
pled the First Amendment by 
requiring patrons to use censor- 
ware and Net terminals to be 
placed where staff can see them. 



Tim Berners-Lee: the PICS devil? 

Taming the Net 


After the World Wide Web Con¬ 
sortium refined its Platform for 
Internet Content Selection, 

the intended standard for rating 
and filtering sites, the Global 
Internet Liberty Campaign 
launched a free-speech attack, 
accusing the W3C of doing the 
devil's work by helping dictators 
and censors everywhere muzzle 
netizens.The response from 
W3Cs Hm Berners-Lee: Our tech¬ 
nology is good - but rights 
groups should remain vigilant. 



Recognized 

Time's Man of the Year; Andy 
Grove, because the mag's editors 
were turned on by his escape- 
from-Budapest story, (Though 
we wonder why, as the most 
powerful chief outside Redmond, 
he's worth only $350 million.) 
National Medal of Technology; 
Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, 
fot'creating and sustaining 
development of Internet proto¬ 
cols and continuing to provide 
leadership in the emerging 
i n d u stry of i nter n etwo r ki n g," 
and Ray Dolby, for his work 
developing sound-recording 
and playback technology. 

TeleMelodrama 

Ruling in favor of SBC Commu¬ 
nications Inc, a federal judge 
in Wichita Fa I Is, Texas, declared 
the Tetecom Act of '96 unconsti¬ 
tutional because it makes it too 
hard for SBC and sister Baby 
Bells to compete in the long 
distance market.The resulting 
salvo of appeals is likely to sink 
the ruling. But the episode will 
also speed up a congressional 
review of the much-litigated law, 


Wiring Shuffle 

The Telecom Act ordered the 
Federal Communications Com¬ 
mission to set up a fund to get 
schools, libraries, and public- 
health clinks online .The FCC, in 
turn, ordered phone companies 
to subsidize the project. When 
the telcos rebelled, the FCC low¬ 
ered the subsidy by more than 
30 percent. A temporary peace. 

Apple; Back in BEack 

After five quarters of punishing, 
Stalingrad-scale losses, Apple 
CEO-not Steve Jobs delivered an 
astonishing financial report. In 
the fourth quarter of 1997, the 
Mac company tallied profits 
for the first time since Bob Dole 
was a contender. The $47 million 
didn't change the worfd.But it 
did give Jobs a dash of cred. 



Apple CEO-not Steve Jobs: 


©o 

You can read Wired News daily at 

www.wired.com 


Netscape: Seeing Red 

The webware shop's stock fell 
to $18 - a record low - after the 
company announced a fourth- 
quarter '97 loss of $85 million, 
and the staff layoffs began. PR 
Spin One:The numbers reflected 
a momentary dip as the firm 
moves from the browser trade 
to the corporate-enterprise 
business. PR Spin Two; Bill Gates's 
free-internet Explorer strategy 
undercut Netscape's sales. 
Reality: Netscape will have to 
give away its $49.99 browsers 
to keep market share. 

Microsoftening? 

Microsoft declared that the 
only way to comply with Judge 
Thomas Penfield Jackson's order 
to offer a version of Windows 95 
sans the Internet Explorer 
browser was to supply defec¬ 
tive software. After being chas¬ 
tised by the judge, however, the 
software superpower allowed 
that its behavior might have 
been strident And Microsoft's 
lawyers tried to assume a more 
polite tone of voice even as 
they continued to whine about 
the court-appointed special 
master, Lawrence Lessig, (See 

The Special Master," page 99.)_ 

But Judge Jackson called the 
polite brief''defamatory,"and 
dismissed the company's filing. 


S? 


WIRED MARCH 1998 















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IMAGES- FONG: J, BUTLER: WILSON: SCOTT HAtfBEN 



The Prodigal Guy 

The Mac's prodigal evangelist - now on teave 

writing Rates for Revolutionaries - is due to return to Apple this 
summer. But his return is looking less than likely. "Who in this 
business knows where they'll be in six months?" Kawasaki jokes 
of his plans. But his new venture, garagexom, is no joke. Kawa¬ 
saki won't verify that the business will be a sort of venture capital 
network for non-VCs, but insiders familiar with his plans say the 
company will match angel investors with start-ups looking for 
the seed capital needed to get a great idea out of the garage. 


Air Thresh 

So Dennis Fong - aka Thresh - went pro.The 21-year-old videogame 
star from Berkeley, California, is competing in the rookie season of the 
Professional Gamers' League, Knowing that winning first prize in the PGL 
Quake season will earn him only US$7,500, the young star is looking to 
endorsements for the big money. Several major equipment manufac¬ 
turers have approached Thresh with deals starting in the low five figures. 
The joystick kid is even negotiating with one company about making 
a custom mouse and other Thresh products. But as his agent Peter Kim 
stresses/Dermis Is very, very picky about what he endorses." 


When IBM bought Lotus Corporation for $3.5 billion in 1995, it was 
really buying Lotus Notes - and , its creator. Which Is to 

say that you should pay attention to Ozzie and his new start-up, 
Rhythmix* Qzzie isn't talking specifics about the company's first 
product, except to say that the new software focuses on the 
same goal as Notes and Netscape - communication and collab¬ 
oration - but with a different spin. And Qzzie has a luxury few 
software geniuses have even the second time around: a per¬ 
sonal fortune of $84 million that enables him to be the majority 
investor. As Ozzie's Rhythmix grows, take note. 


The Unziff 

Chris Anderson, the man behind the spring relaunch of The 
Net , says the repositioned mag (edited by former Wired features 
editor Jim Daly) will target "a business audience that under¬ 
stands the internet explosion "The aspiring new media mogul 
from Britain also invested recently in the webzine feed. Ander¬ 
son's vision is best summed up by a billboard for his Imagine 
Publishing company that proclaims "www.notziff.com."Though 
a man of grand ambitions might want to aim even higher. 


A Gathering Storm 

Current gaming powerhouses "are run by people completely 
alienated from the industry and its subculture,"says Mike Wilson, 
of ton Storm and id Software fame.The Wilson-organized Gath¬ 
ering of Developers aims to change that. His new company - 
a consortium of six big-name publishers - will create titles too 
alternative for mass appeal, real gamers'games that might make 
the suits in the marketing department uneasy. Wilson's gathering 
will release its first four titles this year. 


By Chip Bayers 





















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IMAGE; L05 ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY 





t Alamos National Labo¬ 
ratory researchers Kendall 
Hollis and Richard Castro 
do materials science, Tom 
Bollinger does sculpture. 
Their uniikely partnership 
grew out of the US govern¬ 
ment's technology-transfer 
program, which encourages 
federally funded laboratories 
to develop commercial appli¬ 
cations for their technologies 
and make them available 
to local interests. In New 
Mexico, that means artists. 

So early this year Hollis and 
Castro, who admits he "can't 
even draw a dog,"contacted 


Bollinger, then head of a 
nearby foundry. Working 
together, the three trans¬ 
formed a nuclear weapons 
storage technology into art. 

The technique uses an elec¬ 
trical charge to melt metal 
wires and then spray the 
molten liquid onto an object, 
creating a corrosion-resistant 
polished surface. The process 
is more flexible than conven¬ 
tional casting methods; 
different metals - or any 
material with a melting point 

- can be blended seamlessly, 
and the coating can be spread 
as thin as a few thousandths 
of an inch. 

Call it the National Security 
Endowment for the Arts. 

- Jessie Scanlon 


































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n East London on the Greenwich 
prime meridian, 12 yellow steel 
masts soar 328 feet above the hori¬ 
zon, the first signs of the Millennium 
Dome* Designed by Pompidou Centre 
architect Richard Rogers, the £40 
million (US$65 million) dome will 
be the centerpiece of the Millennium 
Experience, Britain's fin-de-siede 
celebration. 

It will also be the only lasting 
element: long after the futuristic 
exhibits close December 31,2000, # 
the structure will dominate this 
wasteland-by-the-Thames. Measur¬ 
ing 164 feet in height, 350 yards In 
diameter, and covering the 20 acres 
now cluttered with diggers and 
cranes, the dome will he the largest 

I in the world when it is completed in 
late 1998. - Jessie Scanlon 













tat M 


TIRED 

Retin-A 
Sarin 
WAV files 

Online communities 

nest 

WebTV box 
Nintendo 64 
Tamagotchi 
KaiTak 
Think tanks 


WIRED 

Telomerase 
Pokemon 
MIDI over the Net 
Online auctions 
Echoes 

Digital cable box 
Project X 
PostPet 
Chek Lap Kok 
Do tanks 



The little ticktock of the millen¬ 
nial dock will make US$115 
billion for a crowd of clever pro¬ 
grammers, Y2K business consul¬ 
tants, and, of course, lawyers, 
according to International Data 
Corporation. Here's a sample 
of who's cashing in on the 
dreaded Year 2000 Problem. 

- Jennifer HUIner 


Steven Hock 
TiH Attorney at law 
Affixation Thelen, Marrin, 
Johnson & Bridges 

$500,000 to $2 million 
Hock earns his millennial 
millions defending computer 
companies whose products 
suffer from the Y2K bug. This 
year. Hock and his 28-lawyer 
team will represent Software 
Business Technologies in a 
$50 million class-action suit 
(the first major Y2K case to hit 
the courts), as well as three 
similar actions. 

Jack O'Bryan 

Programmer/data 
systems consultant 

Levi Strauss & Co, 
$120,000 to $250,000 
O'Bryan spends an average of 
50 hours a week eyeballing 
code - miles of It - scanning 
for dates used in calculations 
or sequencing and then 
rewriting the code, 

Cynthia Warner 

Acting director of the 
Strategic Information Tech¬ 
nology Analysis Division 
US Government 
Office of information 
Technology, General 
Services Administration 

$77,000 to $101,000 
Warner is Uncle Sam's Y2K 
official, responsible for 
evaluating the Y2K effect on 
all federal agencies and 
hounding them to comply 
with official Y2K policy. She is 
also responsible for steering 
the federal Y2K logo through 
the US Patent Office, 



The Next Generation 


Big Bird fans have something big to took 
forward to: Between the Lions . The show 
is the first product of Sirius Thinking Ltd,, 
an educational programming company 
founded in 1994 by ex-Apple CEO John 
Seulley (above), along with Christopher 
Cerf, Michael Frith, and Norman Stiles - 
a creative trio whose combined resume 
includes Sesame Street and Jim Henson 
Productions, 

Like the classic children's show, Between 
the Lions offers the nuts and holts of read 
ing and phonics in the form of fantastical 
stories and animal characters. Unlike Sesame 
Street , however, the Sirius production uses 
sophisticated live action, animation, and 
3-D rendering technologies and will exist 
in multiple media. Theo (above left), Cleo, 
and Click the Mouse will debut on TV in 
1999 - and then move on to the Web, books, 
and, as Seulley promises, "any media that 
words can be printed on.* - Jessie Scanlon 


06 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 B 


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dence fiction writer Marc Laidfaw 
has finally gotten a life, or at least 
half of one. Now you too can get a 
Half-Life when his first computer 
game is released in April. As Laid law 
fells it, the title 'is going to do the 
stuff I always wanted games to do." 
Half-Life's finely rendered monsters 
may be brutish, but they're not dumb: 
Al developed by Valve, a Seattle game 
company, equips them with pack 
behavior, threat assessment, and - 
unlike most gorefest goons - a dis¬ 
inclination toward suicide attacks. 

For laidlaw, creating an adventure 
set in a demilitarized missile base 
invaded by extradimensional aliens 
sure beats toiling as a legal secretary, 
a job he had for 10 years before land¬ 
ing at Valve. For gamers, entering 
a world written by a master story¬ 
teller makes it that much more fun 
to blow away the bad guys. 

- Mark Frauenfelder 








IMAGE: Pl-EflRE-VWES GO Air EC 



ow those snap-together 
colored bricks of childhood 
yore can do even more. 
Assemble the appropriate 
wickets, wheels, pulleys, 
pumps, clamps, gears, and 
hinges, turn it on - and, 
thanks to the Robotics Inven¬ 
tion System, your Legobots 
come to life. 

This new generation of 
smart Legos is the result of a 
10-year collaboration between 
the Danish toymaker and 
researchers at the MIT Media 
Lab. Each kit includes a pro¬ 
grammable brick that serves 
as a rugged, battery-powered 
Lego brain. Using a PC and 
a simple programming lan¬ 
guage (a version of Seymour 
Papert's Logo), kids build their 
own Robotics programs by 
linking a chain of iconic com¬ 
mands in a drag-and-drop 
interface, and then download 
the instructions to the brick 
via infrared ports. Here's how 
the Legobot building blocks 
stack up. - Michael Behar 




The standard 
Robotics kit includes: 


RCX Brick 

The RCX brick has an 8-bit 
processor and memory 
for five programs, each 
capable of executing nine 
tasks simultaneously. 


light Sensor 

Ones the light stay on 
when the refrigerator 
door shuts? Plug a light 
sensor into one of jflgM 
the brick's three 
input ports, build 
a body and some arms and 
legs, stick it in the fridge, 
and you'll have an answer. 
Or at least the Legobot will, 


Touch Sensor 

Touch sensors prevent the 
robots from falling off tables 
or thrusting themselves 
repeatedly into corners. 

With a few basic commands, 
a bat can be instructed to 
clutch an empty beer can 
in its daws and drop it into 
a nearby recycle bin. 


Motor Ports 

Three control ports can be 
programmed separately to 
switch a motor on and off or 
vary speeds. Combine a series 
of gears and you've got a 
So/ourner-like vehicle with 
enough torque to maneuver 


over a phone book. 


Infrared Ports 

Two infrared ports are 
included: one on the brick 
itself and one for your PC, 
Future robots will be able to 
talk to each other, mimicking 
movements or working 
together on preassigned 
tasks. 


Hackers 


Jr J 


































Mutiny on the 101. It started with a whisper. 
The crew was unhappy. The cookie-cutter 
family sedan was the cause. For years they 
searched the horizon fora car that spoke to 
their hearts and souls, but found nothing. 
Then, they saw it. The new Volkswagen Passat. 
Starting at only $20,750,* they felt it stood for 
the same things they did. The braver ones 
jumped ship first. More were sure to follow. 

Live large. The New Passat. 

Drivers wanted!^) 


"base MSftP. Pries sxdudes taxes, regiilrtit'Oii, JirOTSpfjrlntlbn and dede^drergei [ Nearer sots aduat pree. 5-vatve engine tehd^K>bc|)', Traction control Antdbek 
fjmfees. Ana jus! about power aworylViing bii. to rro. baby 1-000 DRIVE VW www.^om. Always *-~\i ^edbeih. fa «997 Vt iks ■. . je 









I E TOP 0 

Downloads from the Internet Underground Music Archive 


Song Title 

Artist 

Genre 

Downloads 

1. ''Cow Lion5 Clowned Me" 

Kaka Pussy 

Spoken word/ex peri mental 

2,224 

2. "Stop Your Push in rr 

Pole Juju 

World beat 

1,420 

3. "Forgotten' 

Blue Noise Electric 

Dance/techno 

794 

4. "Yum Yum" 

1 Percent Hangout 

flap/hip hop 

749 

5. Tve Been Here Before" 

Kelly Luttrell 

Folk/pop 

749 

o. "One Worldr 

Gregory Abbott 

Blues/pop 

716 

7, "Perfect Strangers" 

Tonya Rae 

Country 

655 

a. "Tom Song" 

30 Foot Whipper 

ColEege/indie/hard rock 

530 

9. "Watching the Young" 

23 Futurists 

Amblent/eJectronk 

517 

io. "Alien Bliss" 

Allen Bliss 

Pop/rock/jazz 

449 


Mote: As of November 1997, all artists on this list were on signed. These figures are based 
on the number of people clicking on a link for the fuEMength version of a particular song In 
November 1997, Source: Internet Underground Music Archive (www.iumaxom/k compiled by 
Howard Wen. - Gareth Branwyn 


n the market for a Stradivari or an Amati? Before you 
buy a US$1 million fiddle, talk to Steve Sirr, a Minneapolis 
radiologist who makes CAT scans of rare violins and other 
bowed instruments.These radiograms reveal details of 
an instrument's inner surfaces and imperfections - such 
as wormholes, glue lines, and other structural defects - all 
of which could affect sound quality and estimated value. 
"It was fortuitous," says Sirr, himself an amateur bow 
scraper. "One day, after I scanned a patient, I looked over 
and saw my violin on the table and thought/] wonder 
what that would look like?'" Considering the hefty price 
of a Strad, Sirr's scans are a great insurance policy. 

- Colin Berry 


JARGON 


WATCH 



Jithead 

An international trans¬ 
portation term used to 
describe people who 
order goods on a "just in 
time"basis and then freak 
out when told that they 
didn't order early enough. 
"That jithead should 
have placed his order 
a month ago." 


Diaper Change 

One of several daily visits 
by a tech-support person 
to the desk of a particu¬ 
larly cranky, lazy, or tech¬ 
nically incompetent user. 
"Sorry I was late, but I had 
to do a diaper change 
down in Accounting/ 


Lapjatking 

The increasingly common 
practice, especially in 
airports, of stealing unat¬ 
tended laptop computers. 

lovejob 

Graphics service bureau 
slang for a file that an 
art director obsessively 
wants output in every 
possible variation/Yeah, 

I know we're ripping it 
to the Iris proofer for the 


ninth time. This one's 
a lovejob." 

Multislacking 

When an employee has 
two browser windows 
open, a nonwork-related 
site on top of a produc¬ 
tive one, and quickly 
clicks on the legitimate 
site whenever the boss 
is nearby. 


Packet-centric 

A growing focus in the 
telecom industry away 
from voice-dominant 
(circuit-centric) networks 
and toward IP packet net¬ 
works as the future deliv¬ 
ery system for combined 
data and telephony. 

Up o r lhe camouflage hunting 
hat to Judith Bookbinder Warren 5, 
Levine, and David Lipton. 

- Gorefb Branwyn 
Ejargon@hvired.CG ml 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


02 


IMAGES: STEVEN SIRS. UD 



















































































































































































Meet Josh. He makes regular 
deliveries to Austin Acres. Once a 
small town gard en supply company. 


Mow a worldwide lawn equipment 
manufacturer that needs a big-time 
place to put all its stuff. That's why 
the Zip® drive and genuine 100HB 
Zip disks are perfect for Austin Acres 
and growing businesses like yours. 
They give you the freedom to carry 
stuff between the office, home, 
school, greenhouse, or 
wherever life takes 
you. Each Zip disk 
holds as much as 70 
fLoppies. It's like having your own 
digital briefcase with more than 
enough room to store multimedia 
presentations, Internet downloads, 
months' worth of e-mails from your 
server, business records, and even 
pink flamingo orders. And with 
over 10 million drives out there, it's 
easy to see why people are getting 
carried away with the Zip drive. 





Standard 1DOMB Zip disks far 
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COURIER 








































































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with the help of the 
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Actual size. 





Say helLo to Susan. She's a people 
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E L A T I 0 N S 













The Iomega Zip' drive. 
The Capacity To Do More;' 1 




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100MB Zip disks are removable and the 
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STORAGE 































































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The Iomega Zip drive is the 
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IiufivitSuaJ user results may vary. ZGfl capacity where 1GB*L billion bytes, Cue capacity sported by ywr operating system may differ, rtepsnriing mi the operating lysten reporting urtltty. 

©1995 Iswega Corporation. Iamflga, tin Iomega logo, Zi Pr and Ja 2 are registered trademarks, and Ditto., Ditto Hu» ZIP' BUILT4H bgo, to media Prmlurcr, Oil!, t-Sttp, FultBuh, ‘Became Iti Tour Staff/ “1ft Like Insurance to The Important Stuff 
tin rour fV "ll»e Super.fast, bctrcmaty Vast Personal btatage Drive,- and “The Capacity To Do More" are trademarks or Iomega Corporation. The legos of Packard 0e1L Inc.; NEC LISA, incj IBM Corporation; Deti Computer Corporation; Apple Computer, Inn: 
Gitway MOO, Int; Surry Qectranlcs, Inn; Micron electronics, Inc,. Hitachi; Sremens-Nttdarf; and Unisys Corporation are trademarks at those respective companies. Microsoft, Windows, Windnws NT, and PowerPoint are trademarks or Microsoft Corporation. 
All other tiademaiita and logos am the properly of the respective ttmipanfes with which they are associated. Alt p rices, actua l V anticipated, are manufacturers suggested; retail prices. Actual prr« may vary. 

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IMAGES; WEMOl FfOADECK 




FETISH 



Circarama 

With OydoVis ion's Para Cam era, you 
can capture video in a panorama, then 
play it instantaneously on a PC screen. 
While some 360-degree camera sys¬ 
tems shoot film one angle at a time 
and piece together the images later, 
CydoVision's camera takes continuous 
video with its curved mirror and 
unwraps images real time with the 
included software. For a little more 
dough, the company also sells server 
software that pushes these all-around 
worlds to Web pages. ParaCamera 52: 
US$3,000, Cy do Vision Technologies: 

+1 (212)499 0909. 

Pugilist 

Having sold more than 10 million 
Tamagotchis in the US alone, Bandai 
has taught kids much about nurturing 
and caring for pets. Its latest offering, 
DigtMon, now adds a touch of Thanatos 
to the previously pacifists toy. After a 
few days of feeding the little monsters, 
kids can connect the plastic "cages" 
and make the virtual occupants battle. 
It's cooler than POGs, cleaner than 
cockfighting, and, most important, 
shows that Bandar's digital beasties 
can be naughty as well as nice, Digi* 
Mon: US$15. Bandai: on the Web at 
www. bandai com/. 

McCoy 

ThrustMaster based the design of its 
Millennium 3D Inceptor on an older 
joystick it had built for the space shut¬ 
tle. Mow, the gaming-hardware com¬ 
pany and government contractor has 
decided to sell one - and only one - 
of the original NASA-bound sticks. 
Mind you, this is a "rotational hand 
controller" - not a joystick. But Thrust- 
Master will add a peripheral cord and 
base to make it ready for any old PC. 
Rotational hand controller: U5$10,000. 
ThrustMaster:+1 (503)6153200. 

WIRED MARCH 1998 





















FETISH 




Wheelie 

With a new line of racing wheelchairs 
and glossy ads in Glamour, Bob Hall is 
blurring the line between high-perfor¬ 
mance sports gear and tools for the 
physically challenged. The superlight 
Defiant handcyde, for instance, boasts 
21 speeds, trispoke composite wheels, 
and a brushed-akiminum frame. Pow¬ 
ered by adjustable cranks, the Defiant 
cruises at a cool IS mph on the road - 
or dirt trails if you opt for mountain- 
bike tires. Hall, the lead designer of his 
company's custom-fit cycles and chairs, 
is well acquainted with the need for 
speed - he's a former Boston Marathon 
record holder. Defiant: US$2,500. New 
Hall's Wheels: * 1(617) 628 7955. 

Soho 

Working in your underwear has never 
been so hip. In fact, marketers have 
dubbed the small office/home office 
soho to conjure images of the trendy 
Manhattan neighborhood. In this vein, 
Xerox makes an office machine that 
perfectly suits the collar-free lifestyle. 
The curvy and compact WorkCentre 
connects to a PC and offers faxing, 
copying, scanning, and full-color print¬ 
ing. Says Lunar Design's Ken Wood, 
who envisioned its shape,"We wanted 
to make it stylish as well as comfort¬ 
able and intuitive, like a toaster or 
teapot," WorkCentre 450c: US$499. 
Xerox: +1 (201) 968 3000. 

Frankenstein 

Fischertechnik Mobile Robots have 
been unleashed For 13 years, Fischer- 
werke, based in Germany's Black For¬ 
est, has made snap-together robot kits 
- essentially Erector Sets with brains - 
that connect to your computer with a 
37i-foot ribbon wire. Previously, you 
could program your bot to follow a 
short routine, and watch it perform on 
your desk. Now the robots are endowed 
with enough onboard RAM to store 
instructions. Get the 350-piece kit, 
assemble it, and write a program to 
send your invention to the kitchen and 
grab a snack from the fridge. Mobile 
Robot: US$399. Tim King Electronics: 
+1 (313)928 2598. 


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FETISH 



Pkkle 

Who is the future Cy Young Award win¬ 
ner on your Little League team? Rawl¬ 
ings's new Radar Ball will tell you. 
Regulation size and weight, the ball 
has a small LCD on its side that gives 
a pitcher's speed instantly* It uses an 
internal accelerometer to sense when 
the ball leaves a pitcher's hand and 
when it hits the catcher's glove. Speed 
is calculated based on the set distance 
from the pitcher's mound to home 
plate - whether you're using the 60- 
foot, 6-inch version for big-league 
ballparks or the 46-foot one for Little 
Leaguers, Radar Ball: US$34,99, Rawl¬ 
ings: +1 (314) 349 3500, on the Web at 
www, ra wlings. com/. 

Thin Client 

Mitsubishi's Pedion has a slender pro¬ 
file but packs a punch. This silvery box 
is a miraculous seven-tenths of an 
inch thick and weighs 3.1 pounds. 

£ven more miraculously, its 233-MHz 
processor and 32 megs of RAM keep 
pace with everything else on the road. 
The unit's battery life disappoints, but 
the larger-than-average keyboard 
does eliminate one major problem 
with today's tiny computers: keys so 
small you have to hire a child to type 
for you. Pedion: less than US$6,000, 
Mitsubishi Electronics America: 

+1 (714) 220 2500. 

Grid 

Recent experiments in the UK to send 
data through electric-power lines 
show that the technology still has a 
few kinks to work out. In the mean¬ 
time, you can use the same idea to set 
up a local-area network in your house. 
By transmitting data over 110-volt 
electrical wires and using plain old 
outlets as ports, the Passport system 
links PCs around the house at data 
rates as high as 350 Kbps. The setup 
works a little slower if you activate the 
encryption option - but at least you 
won't have to worry about blasting 
private emails across the neighborhood 
power lines. Passport: U5$249,99. 
Intelogis: +1 (801) 756 5199. 

Thanks to Jacob Ward, 


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Get there. 





IMAGE; GIRL RAY 


HDTV 

Rebel 


NEWMEDIA 




Twelve years after founding one of the first high-definition production houses, 
Barry Rebo emerges as a leader of the suddenly fast-growing field. 


II t January’s International Consumer Electronics 
Show in Las Vegas, brand-new HDTV sets were 
everywhere, fed by a continuous stream of high- 
definition television programming from the three 
big names in high definition: CBS, PBS, and ... Rebo 
Studio. With its 125 hours of long-form HD program¬ 
ming, Rebo Studio - a 12-person production house in 
Manhattan founded by Bariy Rebo - is ostensibly the 
biggest producer of HD programming in the US, from 
commercials and music videos to Wild Life Adventures 
for Turner Original Programming and the documen¬ 
tary A Passage to Vietnam. 

Rebo and his loyal cadre of HD enthusiasts have been 
producing HDTV programming since 1986, at a time 
when most Americans had n’t even heard of NTSC, the 
current broadcast standard. But Rebo has been ahead of 
the curve his entire video career, accumulating what he 
calls t£ a healthy record of firsts,” starting with dropping 
out of Stanford University’s graduate film school and 
hying to Japan to buy the first-ever portable color video 
equipment. He launched Rebo Associates in 1975, dedi¬ 
cated to “film-style* video stoiytelllng* 

Like many a video storyteller, Rebo had the bug to 
tell stories in celluloid. So, in 1986, when he saw the 
astonishing imagery of an HDTV program transferred 
to 55-mm film, he thought it so “revolutionary” that 
he plunked down US$1,5 million for the first Sony HD 
camera and editing packages sold in the US. 

“Eve never wavered from my belief that high-definition 
TV will be a big part of the imaging industry,” says Rebo. 
“I just didn’t foresee the politics and dramatic changes 
in technology.” 

Those technopolitical debates stalled HDTV for nearly 
10 years - from 1987 to 1996 - but Rebo kept the faith 
through those difficult, often lean times. In fact, it was 
a productive period at Rebo Studio. His technical gurus 
Barry Minnerty and Abby Levine created Restore, which 


fteho's studio: 
from pioneer 
to powerhouse. 


enables any Macintosh imaging software to run in LID, 
while his studio kept churning out HDTV programs, 
some of which - like FooVs Fire , a puppet fantasy- 
drama by Julie Taymor made for the 
late PBS showcase “American 
Playhouse” - garnered 
critical acclaim. 

With the FCC 
mandate for TV 
networks to broad¬ 
cast HDTV starting 
this year, Rebo at 
last can stop push¬ 
ing that rock up the 
hill and look forward 
to getting down to Lhe 
business of producing 
HDTV programming 
and equipment 

“Everybody’s always 
saying Pm a pioneer” 
he remarks. “Our new 
slogan is 'Once a pio¬ 
neer, today the expert. 1 ” 

- Debra Kaufman 


Wired 6,03 

New Media 

71 

Tomorrow Today 76 

The New Economy 70 

Updata 

86 

Crucial Tech 

89 

Hype List 

96 

The^Netizen 

99 

















Why Cable Is Lining Up for Another Potential Beating 



T hree years after interactive television fizzled 
Into vaporware, the cable industry is at it again. 
Executives are talking tough. Equipment makers are 
bullish. Bill Gates and other cybergeeks are pushing 
software and operating systems. Even TCI chair John 
Malone, who prema¬ 
turely predicted a 
"500-channel uni¬ 
verse/' is talking up a 
storm."l haven't been 
this excited since 
Universal gave us 
Jaws on HBQ," Malone 
recently proclaimed. 
Why does the cable industry now appear ready 
for another potential beating? The answer is one 
of economics, better technology, and the Internet. 

On the economic front, digital converters that 
once cost thousands are now a few hundred dollars. 
In December,TCI inked a multibtllion-dollar deal 
with General Instrument for up to 12 million boxes. 
G1 then turned around and agreed to sell a US$187.5 
million chunk of itself to Sony. Meanwhile, the 


industry's research arm, CableLabs, is establishing 
a set-top standard, further driving down prices. 

In terms of technology, the options have diversi¬ 
fied - from simplistic software that pumps data 
through the TV's vertical blanking interval to net¬ 
work computers that offer video email. Companies 
like WorldGate, Interactive Channel, and Wink Com¬ 
munications - as well as behemoths like Microsoft, 
Sun, and Oracle - are making hard sells. 

And then there's the InternetTG, Cox, and Com¬ 
cast have partnered with @Home Network, an 
Internet cable-modem company. Time Warner and 
#Home rival MediaOne have joined forces. And 
don't forget Microsoft, whose $1 billion investment 
in Comcast warmed Wall Street to broadband cable. 

The cable guys also want some of the electronic 
commerce pie. Malone and others talk of ordering 
pizza, linking to advertisers'Web pages - all with 
the dick of a remote. 

So, cable optimists argue, a lot has changed since 
the last run at interactivity. Now they're just hoping 
that the best thing since Jaws doesn't eat them for 
lunch - again. Duh-dum duh-dum. - Michael Grebb 


a2b o> Not to Be? 


L ast year music pirates took to the 
Web in droves to download MP3- 
compressed CD-quality singles for free. 
This state of affairs kept most record 
companies out of cyberspace. The few 
that did venture online found 
themselves mired in lawsuits 
against online bandits. 

Now AT&T has stepped in 
with a spin-off company, a2b 
music, that pairs compression 
algorithms and encryption 
technologies to offer sterling- 
quality singles over the Net. 

For speedy delivery 7 , the col¬ 
lectibles are 50 percent 
smaller than normal audio hies. 

a2b appears to be successfully treading 
the tightrope between consumers, artists, 
promoters, and retailers. Its security fea¬ 
tures protect against theft while allowing 
flexible licensing such as single, multiple. 


or shared uses of files. Customers pay 
a small fee - usually a dollar or less 
each - for these musical gum halls. 

So far, an impressive collection of 
record companies have flocked to the 
service, including Trans- 
world, N2K, Gamelot Music 
stores, and BMC Entertain¬ 
ment, the US$6,3 billion dis¬ 
tributor of Arista, RCA, and 
Windham Hill labels. Most 
important, a2b has attracted 
a long roster of artists. “We’re 
not trying to dictate to the 
industry,” notes CTO Howie 
Singer. “But it’s our intention 
to make this work for everybody." 

The Net may be a hot new distribution 
method for music, but the payoff for record 
companies will come with bulk shoppers. 
Alter a singles trial, several labels plan to 
launch full Web CD releases. - Colin Berry 



Paired once again with the sharp-witted 
Garry Trudeau (right) of Do ones bury fame, 
Robert Altman is turning his discerning lens 
on the high tecti industry. The last time these 
two teamed up was to create the HBO mini¬ 
series Tanner 88 f an acclaimed and edgy 
chronicle of a fictional presidential campaign. 
Their latest small-screen venture. Kilter App, 
includes a "colorful cast of characters, with 
Silicon Valley as the backdrop/’ says Andrew 
Steinberg of the production firm Kushner- 
Locke. The live-action, one-hour weekly series 
is in early stages of development and may air 
on ABC this fall. - Jennifer Hillner 



WIRED MARCH 199S 


IMAGE TOP LEFT: SCOTT MENCHIN; ALTMAN: STEVE SHAPIfiD/GAMMA LIAISON; TRUDEAU- EMMVNELLA GAP DNEfl/OUTLINE 










IMAGES IFRQM TOP LEFT}; LARRY KEENAN /IMAGE BANK BARROS 4 6 A R RO S / i M A G E BANK; M, RUTHERFORD/SUPSRSTQttf; BAflROS + 9 AELft OS/1M AGE RANK 


Media Rants 



Blind New Science of Making 

By Jon Katz 




Babies 


F or a revealing look at the American media’s 
schizophrenic and dysfunctional relationship 
with technology, as well as morality and medical 
ethics, we need go no further than the ongoing 
celebration in Carlisle, Iowa. 

'Hie November hoopla over the birth of the 
McCaughey septuplets is nothing compared with 
what’s to come: The family’s move into their new, 
community-funded home. Free trips to Disney¬ 
land and Sea World. The seps going to school, 
falling in love, getting married, going to college 
and - to be witnessed by those of us still alive - 
making child-rearing decisions of their own. 

The dramatic demonstration 
of the new power of medical 
technology has been enthusias¬ 
tically embraced by corporate 
and political America, and by 
journalism, the pliant cousin 
of both. 

The McCaugheys appeared 
on Dateline chatting with Jane 
Pauley and on ABC World News 
Tonight accepting the keys to a 
donated new van, as well as on 
the cover of Newsweek, where Kenny and Bobbi - 
the latter’s teeth digitally enhanced, the red-faced 
magazine later admitted - announced “We’re 
Trusting in God.” 

They’ll need him, too, now that they’ve brought 
into the world seven babies they can’t possibly 
care for themselves - he’s a clerk at a car dealer¬ 
ship, she’s a seamstress. 

The United States has odd ethical concerns 
about technology. Let Johnny log on to the Play¬ 
boy Web site, ajid moral watchdogs turn out in 
force. Let a real thorny issue surface - cloning, 


The new power of 
medical technology 
has been embraced 
by corporate and 
political America, 
and by journalism, 
the pliant cousin 
of both. 


genetic engineering, powerful fertility drugs - 
and there’s hardly a guardian in sight. 

Right here, on our nightly newscasts, on maga¬ 
zine covers and newspaper front pages - and in 
the thoughtless way they’re marketed - reckless 
decisions are mindlessly endorsed by everyone 
from the president down to the headline writer 
and presented in simplistic, emotionally manipu¬ 
lative ways. 

Who, after all, wants to be critical of cute little 


babies fighting for their lives, or of the deeply 
religious mother who gave birth to them at the 
will of no less an authority than God himself? 

But who speaks for preemies like these in the 
age of multiplying multiple births? Medical ethi- 
cists warn us in vain of the implications of fer¬ 
tility drugs, artificial insemination, surrogate 
parenting, genetic screening, and cloning. 

Child-development experts say that having 
four, five, or six siblings the same age raises all 
sorts of psychological and developmental chal¬ 
lenges. Fertility specialists warn, on those Few 
occasions when they’re asked, that the parents 
of multiple children are rolling dice with their 
children’s lives. If they lose, they could be taking 
home children with severe deformities. 

Problems of premature infants, warned one 
Massachusetts General Hospital neonatologist, 
include chronic lung disease, blindness, stroke, 
cerebral palsy, and long-term learning disabili¬ 
ties. According to experts, for seven normal 
babies who survive the concern is not so much 
what is likely to happen as what isn’t. 

In the era of HMDs, expensive, complex fertil¬ 
ization and implantation procedures are increas¬ 
ingly available to the poorly insured and the poor, 
who may not be able to afford basic care and rou¬ 
tine medical procedures for multiple children. 
Meanwhile, millions of dollars are poured into 
this “brave new science” of making babies. 

Media coverage of this artificial business leaves 
elemental questions unresolved. How far can we 
- should we - go to make babies? Who weighs the 
cost of this babymaking and baby rearing against 
the need to attend to more pressing medicai mat¬ 
ters? Who Is responsible for raising and caring for 
die record number of babies - sure to increase - 
we can now make? 

In the context of the McCaugheys’ lives - their 
religious background and their close-knit, all- 
American community - we were presented with 
a happy miracle. 

But it might not have been one. In modern-day 
America, we have so far opted to let technology 
decide moral issues for itself, m m m 

Email Jon Katz at jonkatz@beilatlantic.net 





In the age of high 
tech babymaking, 
preemies are in 
search of a 
spokesperson. 


□ 3 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 B 









© 


Postmodern 


Muse 



A sk Wally Brill to identify his musical 
spiritual center, and he’s as likely to 
point to Miles Davis or Johnny Cash as Salif 
Keita. Before producing records for such art¬ 
ists as Thomas Dolby and 999, Brill grew up 
in a “secular” New York household. Ironic, 
then, that Brill's disco very in a friend's attic 
of a stack of 78s - discs featuring Jewish 
liturgical singers from the 1920s to the 
'50s - has resulted in The Covenant, a most 
spiritual, and controversial, pop CD. 

Recorded from the 78s and transferred 
into electronic files, songs feature cantors 
Pierre Finchik, Samuel Malavsky, and oth¬ 
ers, their hazzanut delivered with divinity 
and soaring praise. Loops of indigenous 
percussion and vocals surge to an elec¬ 
tronic beat. Though its words are undeni¬ 
ably Hebrew, the disc savors musical styles 
associated with Muslim and Buddhist faiths 
and stirs in some New Age philosophy and 
native rhythms. Temple cantors once sang 
in opera halls, Brill explains, but now he 



is delivering them - 
via digital media and 
aboriginal instrumen¬ 
tation - to a contem¬ 
porary audience. 

Surprisingly, BrilPs 
loudest critics are old- 
school Jewish cantors. 

So me co n tern po ra ry 
cantors have Labeled 
his smorgasbord “primitive”; others have 
simply suggested he not mess with the past, 
4 i get a lot of criticism because 1 Lise Deepak 
Chopra on the record,” says Brill between 
bites of bagel, “but he’s got a lot to say - 
namely that we’re in a realm of all possi¬ 
bilities and have the power to bring things 
into being” 

Brill claims to find divinity in all sounds. 
“All music is spiritual - even the Spice Girls ” 
Brill grins, “though for me, they don’t speak 
as divinely as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan” 

- Colin Berry 


A t Computer Film Company in Culver City 
California, DreamWorks SKG producers eye 
digital effects for the upcoming feature Paulie on 
a monitor and discuss changes with the artists. 
Just a typical day in Hollywood - except that the 
images and the digital artists creating them are 
nearly 6,000 miles away in London. 

What makes this long distance 
creative collaboration possible is 
Sohonet,a digital pipeline between 
the two far-flung cities that just 
opened for transatlantic business. 

Digital networking is nothing new, 
but until now it's been the sole domain of 
big-budget filmmakers. Sohonet makes It as 
easy and routine as a phone call. According to 
managing director Neil Harris, Sohonet is 
the brainchild of staff at digital-effects and 
postproduction facilities clustered in London's 
media-hot Soho neighborhood. Four years ago, 


ATM was an untried technology in the film busi¬ 
ness, but in late 1995 five companies hooked up 
to give it a try. Once united, Sohonet turned its 
sights to Hollywood."For Hollywood stu¬ 
dios that have offices in London," 
says William Sargent, executive 
director of Megalomedla, 
"Sohonet is the potential 
umbilical cord." 

For now, on ly transatla ntic 
Cinesite and Computer Film 
are able to easily use the ser¬ 
vice. Future network upgrades 
will support videoconferencing, higher-resolution 
files, and a direct connection to major US stu¬ 
dios, ad agencies, and production companies. 

"There's not enough capacity in LA to satisfy 
the huge appetite for effects work," reveals Harris. 
"We hope to help take away some of the strain." 
- Debra Kaufman 




Is an Advertisement 

Two of the newest frontiers of 
advertising take advantage of 
captive audiences: consumers 
at the gas pump and the cash 
machine. Electronic Data Systems 
has begun testing 15-second 
spots on 150-plus ATMs in the 
San Diego area. Rio Network of 
Raleigh, North Carolina, beams 
ads to US gas pumps via satellite. 

While pump ads are limited 
mostly to LCD readouts, EDS goes 
higher tech at ATMs, with full- 
color video ads and movie clips. 

Do consumers mind the intrusion? 

Rio's Dick Diemer says no, so long 
as it's brief. After all, he adds, 

"people don't like to stop for gas 
in the first place/' - Chris Rubin 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


IMAGES (CL0CKWJSE fBOM T0P>. CHRISTINE AUCINO; LOU BEACH; PAULA LUKEY 













Stoplights can feel like an eternity. So to combat boredom 
the GS-T is equipped with leather trim, a 6-way adjustable 
sport seat, and 210-peak watts of premium audio. This way 
time flies while you're standing still 


Tell David Hansen he has his head in the stars 
and he won't take offense. You see, David's 
an astronomy buff, and even his choice of 
car was influenced by celestial bodies. David 
drives a turbocharged, 210-horsepower* 
Eclipse Spyder G5-T, which aligns perfectly 
with his interest in cosmic 
phenomena. 


We take fun seriously. Which means the Eclipse Spyder 
has some serious engineering. Starting with a reinforced 
chassis and a suspension that's engineered specifically 
for this convertible. You see, the only thing we want 
rocking and rolling in our car is the stereo. For more 
details on the Eclipse Spyder, call 1-80Q-55MITSU. Or 
cruise by our web site at www.mitsucars.com 


—.MITSUBISHI 

I i ECLIPSE SPYDER 


Okay, so the hat's history. No problem. Just hold 
a button for ten seconds and you have shade. 
High-quality, power-operated, fully-lined, doth- 
covered shade. Now hit the accelerator and watch a I 
the other cars disappear in the glass rear window. 


Place hat on head. Press accelerator. 

Buy new hat 


Pick the apex of a nice, 
challenging corner. Now point 
and shoot. With the Eclipse Spyder's 
4-wheel independent multi-link suspension 
and speed-sensitive power steering, you'll hit 
the target every time. 


Eclipse Spyder GS starts at S21,4-30. Eclipse Spyder GS-T shown MSRP 
$26,660 plus $420 destination/handling (Alaska $540), Excludes tax, title, license, 
registration fee, dealer options and charges. Prices and vehicle availability may 
vary. Actual prices set by dealers. "205 hp with automatic transmission. 











What's coming. By Jesse Freund 



orrow Today 


Spring 1998 
Restart Me Up 
Freshly minted Windows 98 
CDs are shrink-wrapped and 
shipped to the far reaches of 
the planet - just in the nick 
of time. Explorer is finally an 
OS element, despite the pro¬ 
testations of federal antitrust 
pro sec utors. Th e bro wseris h 
interface, and support for 
DVD hardware - plus the 
Universal Serial Bus - drives 
sales past the SO million 
Win95 units soldThe kickoff 
song: another Bolling Stones 
golden oldie/You Can't 
Always Get What You Want" 


Summer 1998 
Writing to Disc 
Computers equipped with 
DVD-RAM drives arrive on 
Costco shelves, but the debut 
is less than auspicious. Costly 
capture boards are required 
for recording video, so the 
5.2-Gbyte discs will be used 
for the less exciting task of 
backing up data - lots and 
lots of data. And Sony's com¬ 
mitment to an alternate 
RAM standard, DVD+RW, 
leaves consumers confused. 
No matter; the potential for 
new markets (read: porn] 
sparks retail demand for 
recordable DVD players. 


Fall 1998 
Aquatic Rocket 

Boeing's Sea Launch, a 660- 
foot-long command ship that 
controls a 30,000-ton oil rig 
turned launch pad, hauls a 
rocket out to sea and fires off 
a satellite from the middle 
of the Pacific Ocean. The 
inquisitive might wonder, 
why all the fuss? It seems 
aquatic, near-equatorial 
launches best utilize Earth's 
rotational forces - saving 
fuel, ensuring a longer life 
in orbit, and allowing com¬ 
panies to shoot ever-larger 
satellites into space. 


Spring 1999 
Beer-Bottle Boon 
Barroom brawlers find them¬ 
selves in a quandary when 
Superex Polymer releases 
technology to manufacture 
airtight plastic bottles. Beer 
bottlers have had to rely on 
glass because plastic allows 
oxygen to leak in. Superex 
has found a way to make an 
air-resistant liquid-crystal 
polymer - the thick plastic 
used for electrical connectors 
- thin enough to be placed 
inside a bottle.The light¬ 
weight plastic spells cheaper 
beer (mmm ... cheap beer) 
and wild new packaging. 


2000 

Intranet of Intranets 

Nasdaq completes its Enter¬ 
prise Wide Network II,The 
new net supports trading on 
the magnitude of 4 billion 
shares a day, scalable to 
8 billion shares, and proves 
to be the world's largest and 
fastest intranet. Quite an 
impressive feat, unless you 
consider that on October 28, 
1997, total market transac¬ 
tions numbered a record 1,37 
billion, causing network oper¬ 
ators to wonder how many 
trades a panic - er, correction 
- can engender. 



Spring 1998 
Matinee Mayhem 
A year after Tamagotchis 
rampaged through schools 
like Game Boys on juice, a 
remake of Godzilla sets Holly¬ 
wood on fire. Once again, 
Japanese pop culture lands 
on the Main Street marquee 
- albeit 44 years after the 
original movie's premiere. 
Toho, the Japanese distribu¬ 
tion company that owns the 
rights to the film, has long 
protected Godzilla more 
vigilantly than Coca-Cola 
guards Coke™. But thanks 
to the prying ways of TriStar 
Pictures, moviegoers finally 
revisit the wonders of Mon¬ 
ster Island. 


Fall 1998 

Internet Throwback 
The completed Internet! 
wi res 116 u n iverities to a 
new high-performance net¬ 
work. After starting with a 
paltry 34 sites back in 1996, 
the finished project harks 
back to the early academic 
days of the now commercial¬ 
ized Net. Nostalgia aside, 
internet! heralds cutting- 
edge advances - such as 
band width-reservation ser¬ 
vices, support for IPv6, and 
an architecture built around 
gigaPOPs [gi gab it-capacity 
points of presence) - that 
should eventually seep into 
commercial networks. 


Fall 1998 

Nova Scotia Cares 
Canada's first provincewide 
telemedicine network, the 
Nova Scotia TeleHeaith Net¬ 
work, holds the distinction 
of being one of the largest 
public-health communica¬ 
tions projects in the world 
and the first to connect every 
hospital (43 sites) in an entire 
jurisdictionJn human terms, 
rural doctors from the east¬ 
ern regions can send X rays 
of fishing injuries to radiolo¬ 
gists in Halifax, while MDs 
across the land share exper¬ 
tise and images to pin down 
vexing diagnoses. 


fall 1999 
New Dune 

Bantam Books's US$1 million 
investment in a trilogy of 
Dune prequels - coauthored 
by Frank Herbert's son, Brian, 
and SF author Kevin Ander¬ 
son - comes out just in time 
for holiday shoppers. Fans 
compare the new offering 
to the original series, hoping 
that Junior has managed to 
capture the majesty of Sen¬ 
ior's vision instead of the 
campy cult status of the film 
version starring Sting. Either 
way, considering that the 
original Dane sold nearly 10 
million copies, the publisher 
is the biggest winner 


2001 

Mario's Cap and Gown 

Students at DigiPen, the 
videogame institution of 
higher ed u cati o n, ta ke th e 
long walk to the real world 
when the so-called Donkey 
Kong U. doles out the world's 
first bachelor of science 
degree in real-time interac¬ 
tive simulation. During the 
previous four years, pupils in 
the maiden class have stud¬ 
ied mathematics, physics, 
p rog ram m i n g, a n d a n i mat ion. 
Now, equipped with little 
more than that coursework 
and the idealism endemic 
to recent grads, they leave 
the warm nest of college for 
the cold, hard realities of the 
gaming industry. 


06 


WIRED MARCH 1998 



































































































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IMAGE- MICHAEL SEXTON 


China, 


THENEWECONOMY 


Big Time 


© 


Don Xia's ChinaBiG appears to have an advantage any monopoly would envy: 

the government's blessing. But some see this blessing as decidedly mixed. 


O n first pass, ChinaBiG (wwwxhinabig.com/) faces 
the same huge expectations and slim chances of 
any online start-up. Sure, the Hong Kong-based com¬ 
pany boasts an impressive 2 million business listings 
in its Yellow Pages-style directoiy, and, true, 
they’re bilingual (Chinese and English), offering 
Chinese businesses access to foreign markets, 
and vice versa. But ChinaBiG relies on typical 
Web revenue streams such as advertising and 
site hosting, and as the 91 online direc¬ 
tories that failed in the fourth quarter 
of 1997 can tell you, these streams 
aren’t flowing like they should. 

And yet, for a start-up, ChinaBiG 
appears to have an advantage even 
Bill Gates might envy: a monopoly, 
the blessing of the Chinese government, 
and its own infrastructure. The venture v 
is one of the first new media companies 
launched by China Unicom, In the 
early ’90s, a combination of state and 
private funding led to the creation of 
Unicom, which the 35-year-old CEO 
of ChinaBiG, Don Xia, claims has 
the lead in building the next genera¬ 
tion of long distance backbon e net¬ 
works - via fiber optics, microwave, 
and satellites - that will transmit 
the Internet telephony, faxes, and 
wireless communications essential 
to doing business overseas, 

“I don’t see many disadvantages 
to our ties with the government,” 




Xia says. “But the advantages are many.” Among them, 
a shared monopoly with the Ministry of Posts and Tele¬ 
communications on the government’s business listings, 
which include the updated phone, fax, and street 
addresses of all Chinese businesses. 

“But how well organized and accurate and 
rapidly updated is that information? Have you 
ever dealt with a Chinese bureaucracy?” asks 
Milton Mueller, author of China in the Informa¬ 
tion Age 7 who stresses the “vicious” competition 
between state-sponsored enterprises like 
Unicom, the MPT (which claims 98 
percent of China’s telephone market), 
and the news agency Xinhua. Says 
Mueller, “The state connection is as 
much a curse as it is an advantage ” 
Xia, however, is optimistic, owing in 
part to how much he’s already accom¬ 
plished and in part to the potential for 
growth. Xia first got hands-on experience 
with the Yellow Pages when he delivered 
the hefty books in the Los Angeles area, 
a part-time job during graduate school at 
USC. He later founded and played pri¬ 
mary roles in several Chinese telecom 
companies. Today, Xia points out, China 
has more than a billion consumers 
but less than 10,000 active Web sites. 
“Unlike in the States, where you have 
to become very specialized and Fast,” 
Xia says. “We see online business as 
a wide-open opportunity” 

- Christopher Jones 


Xia's ChinaBiG boasts 
2 million business listings 
in the Greater China region* 


WIRED MARCH 1998 






Esther Dyson m 



J ust as EDventure Holdings chair Esther 
Dyson has made her mark stateside as a 
consummate networker and author, her repu¬ 
tation precedes her in Central Europe, where 
she's helped fledgling entrepreneurs become 
market leaders. What's not yet dear, however, 
is whether Dyson can apply her magic to 
her own Central European businesses. 

Though she owns and manages minor 
investments in Hungary and the Czech 
Republic, Dyson has invested most heav¬ 
ily in Poland, which she finds "the 
most appealing" because in this 
country of 40 million, business is 
growing fast and" they all need 
better systems." 

In 1994 she used US$50,000 
to help launch an Internet 
service provider, Poland 
On Line (aka Polska 
OnLme), By mid-1997 it 
had 50 employees and 
2,200 subscribers, including 
500 busInesses.The 1996 rev- 
enue, however, was a meager 
$165,000. She raised more money for Polska 
throughout '96, securing a capital infusion 
from Dan Lynch at CyberCash, among others. 
(The total cap, she says, is nearing $800,000.) 


Poland 


She also emphasized custom software devel¬ 
opment, merging Polska with Buk BT. 

"The goal is to expand rapidly, but carefully," 
Dyson asserts."We have strong programmers, 
and we want to become an important force 
in the software-development market." 

Ask around in Poland and it's plain that 
Dyson is held in high regard, owing in large 
measure to the annual East-West High-Tech 
Forum, held first in Budapest in t99Q/'Her role 
was tremendous," says Bogdan Wisniewski, 
vice president of Warsaw-based Computer- 
Land."Esther helped us know the future and 
accommodate to that "Today, as a Computer¬ 
Land board member,"she is on the telephone, 
listening." In contrast, Wisniewski says, US 
partners previously "came to untried to show 
us how to do business, but didn't listen. Esther 
was different. She was trying first to under¬ 
stand what the rules were here, what were 
the differences." 

Though obviously appreciative of her 
efforts, Wisniewski hesitates to say whether 
Dyson's companies will prosper. Polska Online 
executive Slawomrr KulagowskI is convinced 
that they will. While Polish business chiefs 
sweat this year's IT demands, Kulagowski 
says,"Esther's horizons start after five years," 

- Peggy Simpson 


Watching the Predictors 


Canadian High Tech 
Tax Dodge 



Residents of Quebec recently 
learned that some of their local 
restaurateurs are on the tax- 
evasion vanguard. Someone 
hacked a Gamma Microsystems 
software program most Canadian 
hotels and restaurants use to 
tally and report sales tax, allow¬ 
ing the restaurant owners to 
underreport their earnings and 
deny the government millions. 
Revenue Canada, the govern¬ 
ment's tax-collecting arm, has 
responded with a tech-enhanced 
investigation* As government 
spokesperson Michel Cleroux 
told Toronto's Globe and Mail, 


"We have computers, too* 1 ' 
- Bill Brazell 


W hile wc know that ecommerce keeps 

growing, by how much is anyone's guess. 
And analysts don’t make matters any easier. 
Their estimates for United States online sales 
in 2000 differ by as much as US$61 billion, 
and not only that, their estimates of actual 
ecommerce revenues in 1996 don’t mesh, 
either. (See chart at right.) 

Why the vast disparity? For starters, there’s 
little consensus about what ecommerce mea¬ 
sures. And each company uses a slightly differ¬ 
ent model to make its forecasts. Most conduct 
a survey: I DC talks to 40,000 Net users, Data- 
quest interviews 5,000 online shoppers, and 
Jupiter and Forrester question Web merchants. 
Revenues are then derived using a variety of 


methods that include guesstimating growth 
based on assessments of current Web-user 
behavior (fDC), contrasting numbers with 
secondary ecommerce r esearch from ACNielsen 
and Commerce Net (Dataquest), comparing 
estimates with hard numbers gathered from 
major online retailers (Forrester), or project¬ 
ing ecommerce growth as a portion of total 
online audience (Jupiter). 

The good news: all four research compa¬ 
nies report underestimating their 1996 figures. 
The bad news: none have developed a way to 
forecast without resorting to old over-the- 
counter sales models, even though ecommerce 
obviously eliminates the counter. 

- Michael Behar 


Ecommerce Revenues ius$ billions) 

An*- - * 

1996 2000 


Source 

JDC Research 




$94 


- 



Forrester Research- 

$ 1.4 


$117 


J u ptterCo m munjfatio ns 

^ i r 


Dataquest 


$ 0.7 


$ 6.4 

aar, •» 


$ 15.6 

$56 


WIRED MARCH } 9 9 E 




it 


MAGES IFR0M TOP LEFT): NIGEL PARfcY/tPlr LOU BEACH. COURTESY KGTV 










IMAGE: LOU 8 E AC H 


High Tech Embraces“0ff$||OrB” EfflplOyCCS 



Contrary to the views of Congress, presidential hopefuls, and Ross Perot's Reform Party, 
Silicon Valley sees offshore programming as a win-win strategy. Here's why. By David Case 


D espite a few hardships, like the time his moth¬ 
erboard crashed and he had to drive 600 
miles to Moscow for a replacement that failed too, 
software programmer Alexander Polusko’s career 
illustrates how almost anyone anywhere with a 
computer and the right programming languages 
can tap into the network economy. 

From his home in distant Tolyatti, Russia, 
Polusko makes a handsome living punching code 
for Access Softek, a Berkeley, California, firm with 
clients such as Microsoft and Adobe. And Access 
CEO Chris Doner couldn’t be happier with Polu- 
sko and his peers, pointing out how easy it was 
for Access to establish overseas 
operations. There were no huge 
capital investments, no shipping 
nightmares, and none of the 
usuai bureaucratic tangles that 
encumber traditional foreign 
ventures. Plus his Russian pro¬ 
grammers often get by without 
an office. 

Sound encouraging? Not 
to Russell Verney, chair of the 
Dallas-based Reform Party. 

To Verney, Polusko represents 
“a threat to the American lifestyle.” According to 
Verney, “Engineers in the US can’t compete with 
programmers in countries like Bangladesh, who 
work for a minimum of 60 percent less pay.” And 
it’s not only Ross Perot’s cronies who fret over 
giant sucking sounds: for similar reasons, several 
in the House opposed granting President Clinton 
fast-track trade-negotiating status late last year. 

Talk to managers and software engineers in 
Silicon Valley and you’ll soon learn that these 
neoprotectionists don’t speak for them. To software 
and multimedia firms in particular, overseas, or 
“offshore,” labor holds great promise, a win-win 
situation that enriches both American and foreign 
workers - and benefits consumers to boot. Global¬ 
ization, they contend, creates opportunities for 
products that would be too expensive to make in 
the US alone, while also increasing productivity. 
Abroad, they say, outsourcing bolsters wages and 
encourages higher education. Moreover, it makes 
sense. Despite the two-thirds global market share 


Despite the two- 
thirds global market 
share US software 
companies hold, only 
one-third of the 
world's programmers 
live in the US. No 
wonder businesses 
look abroad. 


held by American software companies, only one- 
third of the world’s estimated 6 million program¬ 
mers actually live in the US, and studies released 
this January confirmed what leading software 
companies already knew: there’s a shortage of 
skilled IT workers. Last year only 26,000 comput¬ 
er science graduates matriculated from US univer¬ 
sities, and the US Department of Commerce has 
reported that 1 in 10 infotech jobs lacks a warm 
geek. 

No wonder, then, that entrepreneur Jas Dhillon 
went to India. He did so not to save money - the 
cost differences have become negligible, he says 
- but because he was unable to attract employees 
in Silicon Valley, even when offering six-figure sal¬ 
aries. Using code written in Bangalore, he has 
launched Blue-Linc/On-Line, a service that enables 
construction projects to be managed over the Net. 

Morgan Interactive, a multimedia lirm, moved 
most of its operations to Vietnam, where it now 
employs about 120 artists and programmers. 
There, the lirm reduced its costs by a staggering 
70 percent - as a result, says Morgan president Ed 
Dua, he’s hiring again in San Francisco. 

Perhaps most important, high tech employment 
departs from the low-wage manual work US busi¬ 
nesses have historically foisted on contractors in 
developing nations. It encourages higher educa¬ 
tion - and sometimes pays for it. Last year Oracle 
trained about 200,000 students abroad, and the 
firm plans to spend $50 million to train thousands 
more this year. Yes, this is hardly altruism (Oracle 
will expand its market by having users abroad), 
but Oracle’s programs definitely defy the condi¬ 
tions of textile sweatshops. 

Even The Institute of Electrical and Electronics 
Engineers (representing nearly 100,000 computer 
professionals) disagrees with attempts to shackle 
the international labor market “We’ve come to 
the conclusion that monopolies - either in terms 
of companies or countries - don’t lead to growth,” 
says Paul Rostek, president-elect of IEEE-UvSA. 
“The competition is actually very good,” he con¬ 
cludes. “it keeps us on our toes ” m m m 



Silicon Valley leaders 
don't fear jobs flying 
overseas. In fact, 
they often have to 
leave the country 
themselves to find 
qualified employees. 
Last year there were 
just 26,000 computer 
science grads in the 
United States. 


David Case (maleta@eompuserve.com) is a San 
Francisco-based journalist. 


0i 


WIRED MARCH 1998 












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F or business travelers crammed into 
crowded rush-hour cabins, it may 
come as a surprise that the eight major 
US carriers fly jets at an average of only 
65 to 70 percent capacity. When marke¬ 
teer Jay Walker realized this, he began 
devising a system using the Internet to 
offer consumers a potential deal on the 
millions of seats that 
fly empty. 

The result, Price¬ 
line.com, debuts 
this month, and, 
according to Walker, 
will enable con¬ 
sumers to name 
the price they'd be 
willing to pay for 
airline tickets. At 
the company's Web 
site (www.prLcdine.com/), you simply 
provide your itinerary, the price you Ye 
willing to pay, and your credit card num¬ 
ber If an airline accepts, Priceline.com 


,6 


& 


will gel back to you within an hour with 
a non re fundable ticket. 

“This is not for the businessperson ” 
says Walker, whose Stamford, Connecti¬ 
cut-based Walker Digital Corporation 
lined up 12 investors, built a US$25 
million budget, installed 80 Web servers, 
and reached “solid* agreements with 
all the major carriers prior to launch. 
*WeYe going to reach what we call the 
VFR crowd - the visiting-friends-and- 
relatives crowd. They Ye the kind of 
people willing to say, 4 For the savings, 

III take a connection in Minneapolis/” 

By the end of 1998, Walker expects 
Priceline.com to ring up a million hits 
a day for the 1*000 to 3,000 tickets avail¬ 
able daily. To get those hits, he's spend¬ 
ing $10 million to advertise this spring. 
Says Walker, "The airlines like this sys¬ 
tem because it gives them an opportunity 
to add incremental revenue without dis¬ 
rupting their retail-fare system* 

- Frank Jossi 


The Wired Interactive Technology Fund (TWITS) 



Mass Murder Bad 
for Business 


As if moral incentives weren't 
enough to discourage state-spon¬ 
sored murder, University of Texas 
professor Gerald W. Scully proves 
in his paper "Murder by the State" 
that killing one's citizens is bad 
for the economy. For one thing, 
it's hell on the tax base*There 
is, writes Scully/'an inverse rela¬ 
tionship between the amount of 
killing of the domestic population 
and the 'value 1 of the people 
being killed/' For the complete 
text of his study, see www.pubik 
-policy,org/~ncpa/studies/s2 T 7 
ZsIllMmL - Brad Wieners 


Company 

Primary Business Symbol 

Shares 

Clasel/2 

ASince Purchase Action 

TWIT$ and the Russell 2000 spent December treading water. 

ArQuIe 

Pharmaceuticals 

ARQL 

8,000 

23 

+ 5% 

hold 

Each finished roughly even for the month. 

Arbor Software 

Ascend Communications 

Software 

Network hw/sw 

AfrSW 

ASND 

4,000 

4,Q0D 

41% 

25% 

- 1% 

“ 58% 

hold 

hold 

To start 1998,1 dipped into theTWIT$ cash reserves to buy 
two medical stocks that are off their highs. 1 purchased 3,000 

Aware 

Network hw/sw 

AWRE 

14,000 

10% 

+ 0% 

hold 

BioChem Pharma 

Pharmaceuticals 

BCHE 

8,000 

21 % 

- 1% 

buy 3,000 

shares of BioChem Pharma in front of its Hepatitis B drug launch 

Cisco Systems 

Network hw/sw 

CSCG 

3,000 

58 y« 

- 4% 

hold 

and 10,000 shares of Fusion, which announced on December 17 

Dataware 

Software 

DWTI 

30,000 

3% 

- 41% 

hold 

the completion of a Phase 1 trial for its proprietary blood-clotting 

Forte Software 

Software 

FRTE 

15,000 

7% 

-68% 

hold 

technology, FloSeal Matrix.This trial, conducted at the University 
of British Columbia's Vancouver Hospital, used FloSeal Matrix to 

Fusion Medical 

Medical equipment 

FS0N 

45,000 

3% 

-32% 

buy 10,000 

Informix 

Database sw 

IFMX 

6,675 

5 V. 

-86% 

hold 

Intel 

Microchips 

INTC 

2,000 

72% 

+ 4% 

hold 

prevent patient blood loss during major surgeries. 

Patti oGenesis 

Pharmaceuticals 

PGNS 

4,000 

37 % 

+ 5% 

hold 

Everyone hates the data base-softwa re sector right now, but 

Pharmacydits 

Pharmaceuticals 

FCYC 

7,000 

24% 

+ 27% 

hold 

Hike this entry point for Grade. Oracle's stock price has been 
, almost halved since reaching its 52-week high of 42% on 
August 20,1997. Buying now is a pure play on Larry Ellison's 

Quick Response Services 

Information services QRSI 

4,000 

35% 

+ 5% 

hold 

New Holdings 

Pegasus Systems 

Online Commerce 

PEGS 

8,000 

15 


buy 

Grade 

Database sw 

ORCi 

5,000 

22% 


buy 

ability to restore his greatly diminished net worth. 

Cash Holding 

$110,821 






The only other addition is Pegasus Systems, an online reser¬ 

Portfolio Value 

$2,205,118 






vation system for the hotel industry. Most of the hotel chains 
own a piece of the company, and its recent deal with Microsoft 
positions Pegasus to consolidate a fragmented industry. 

Portfolio Performance since 12/1 

-1% 


Russell 2000 Index 

+ 1% 

Legend: This fund started with US$1 million on December 1,1994, We ate trading on a monthly basis, so profits and losses will 
be reflected monthly with profits reinvested in the fund or in new stodu. 

TWITS is a model established by rtfafd r nat an officially traded portfolio. Jeffery Warddl is a seniar vice president ewouuve financial services representative for 
Hambrecht & Quist UC and may fijw a personal interest in Slocks listed in TWlTJ.Ihe opinions Expressed hejan are those of the author and not necessarily 

- Jeffery Warded (jwardefl@hamquist.com) 


(hose of HfiQ's researdi d?p4rtm?nl.H&Q ha* not verified (he information forttamed in this article and does ml make any representitronstn inaccuracy aivd 
rampfetflfleii. Wired readers who use this information for investment decisions do so at their own risk. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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The rest of the story. 


Pushover? 




Beijing 
Banned 

When Scott Savitt, 
founder of the 
English-language 
weekly Beijing Scene, 
talked to Wired last April ("Agent of Cul¬ 
tural Evolution," page 65), his paper's 
future was uncertain. In May it folded.The 
way Savitt tells it, the 25,000-circulation 
paper was swept up in a phenomenon 
particular to modern China; As the Hong 
Kong handover approached, the Beijing 
government began to look for possible 
sources of dissent. That same government 
also happened to publish a monthly com¬ 
petitor, Beijing This Month, which was 
struggling for ad revenue. Both bode 
poorly for Savitt's enterprise*These guys 
from Beijing This Month came to me and 
said'Don't produce this thing anymore/* 
says Savitt,"Their actions clearly weren't 
legal, but what we were doing wasn't 
legal, either." In the fall Savitt moved to 
New York, where he served alongside Chi¬ 
nese dissident Wei Jingsheng as a visiting 
scholar at Colombia University's School of 
International and Public Affairs "We're still 
trying to negotiate a license," he says."The 
newspaper hasn't been coming out for six 
months, but we still consider the hiatus to 
be temporary." - Richard Overton 


WIRED MARCH ] 99 & 


L ast March, we told you to "kiss your browser good¬ 
bye" ("Push!" Wired 5,03)* Perhaps we should 
rephrase that. In early 1997, publishers had high hopes 
for the new push systems, which could automatically 
feed personalized content to readers rather than 
waiting for them to pull it from the Web, Inspired by 
PointCast's success, dozens of new companies started 
developing push products. Netscape and Microsoft 
announced push capability in their forthcoming 
browsers. Business Week’s February 24,1997, cover 
story declared "Webcasting" the new model for Internet content delivery. 

But push has fallen far short of the scenarios spun a year ago. What passes as 
"personalization" today amounts to little more than simple keyword matching or 
filtering out content categories. And until cable or xDSL modems give home users 
video capability, small text-based items like stock prices and news headlines are 
the only content capable of being pushed to large audiences. 

Even the word push is falling from favor in product descriptions and press 
releases. Marketers now speak only of Web site "subscriptions," in voking images 
of the humble daily newspaper instead of a full range of personalized content. 
PointCast - the original push-media success story - was recently audited as hav¬ 
ing more than 1 million monthly viewers. Yet even PointCast's Jim Wkkett, senior 
VP of worldwide business development, insists that "PointCast isn't push. It's a 
news and information service." 

The most surprising roadblock for push, though, comes not from technology, 
but from the intended audience. Push media's promises are often met with out¬ 
right resentment from computer owners glad to be free of TV's broadcast model. 
"Many people immediately recognized the democratic potential of the Web," says 
Julie Petersen, editor at Ikonic, a Web site builder for such companies as Microsoft 
and Virgin Records. "Consumers are smarter than media organizations thought. 
When push came along, they said,'I've seen this one-way communication before. 
I'm not going to accept it on the Web/" 

Ironically, one successful push technology to date is already in its third decade: 
email, Internet users loathe spam, but eagerly sign up for regular mailings they 
deem useful. Netscape's In-Box Direct emails HTML from more than 125 publishers 
to an estimated 3 million subscribers. Why has email succeeded where pop-up 
video has stalled? Because consumers have grown acclimated to it over time, 
rather than having it thrust upon them as a new paradigm by publishers desper¬ 
ate for larger audiences. "People are already programmed to check their email 
once a day," explains Netscape spokesperson David Bottoms. "We've built on that 
by enriching email with HTML and links to the Web." 

Still, few publishers are willing to admit giving up on the push medium. Instead, 
push's advent looks to be more evolution than revolution."Push Is an investment," 
says Dave Fester, Microsoft's group project manager."lt's not magic fairy dust you 
sprinkle on a product to make it sell better." - Paul Bautin 


□ 6 



Baht Blues 
In Wired’s 

September 1996 issue, 

Thai media mogul 
Sondhi Limttiongkul 
vowed to beam digital 
satellite television to all of Asia (Thai in 
the Sky," page 74). It was part of his grand 
plan to build a Pan-Asian media empire 
that includes his regional newspaper Asia 
Times and magazine Asia fnc But the col¬ 
lapse of the Thai baht last spring brought 
Limthongkul's highly leveraged empire 
crashing to Earth. Advertising dollars at his 
publishing businesses plummeted. Awash 
in red ink, Asia Times closed its doors last 
June after blowing through US$60 million 
in 18 months. In August, Umthongkul's 
private holding company, the M Group, 
announced it was divesting from not only 
the satellite project but also two wireless 
communications ventures that once had 
been profit workhorses. As of December, 
Asia Inc . was teetering on the brink of 
bankruptcy, Limihongkul has salvaged 
an online business, a consulting company, 
and a handful of other smaller projects - 
a far cry from his dreams of becoming 
Lord of the Skies. - Alex Salkever 


IMAGE FAR LEFT; M. CHANG 










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CRUCIAITECH 


Ant 


for the Web 

Professor Paul Kantor's digital-information pheromones sniff out the good stuff on the Web. 
But keep your antennae up for intellectual fads and poisoned bait. 




W hen people need a metaphor to describe Web 
navigation, they usually reach for a spider. Paul 
Kan tor is partial to ants. “They've evolved these chemi¬ 
cal systems for communicating information," says the 
Rutgers University professor of information sci¬ 
ences. “When you look at people dealing 
with any kind of information system, you 
realize that each person's decisions - those 
he or she makes in the course of 
getting to the right informa¬ 
tion - are essentially lost to 
the rest of the world." 

Enter digital-information 
pheromones, or DIPs, the 
concept at the core of a new 
Rutgers University project 
that aims to “ail lily" the Web 
by allowing people lo leave 
pointers for those who might 
follow in their footsteps. But dealing 
with DIPs is no picnic. Kantor's answer 
is a network of Ant World Servers and 
AntApplels that will allow searchers 
to vote on how well a particular page 
they land on has satisfied their query. 

So what would an ant-enabled 
site look like? “Our current thinking 
is that you'd see a tiny ant icon 
next to a link," explains Kan tor. 

Clicking on the insect would pop up 
a dialog box describing how useful - 
the Web page behind the link had 
been to previous visitors. 


The idea dates back to 1987, when Kant or, then a 
distinguished visiting scholar at the Online Computer 
Library Center in Dublin, Ohio, sought a way for patrons 
to leave pointers from one book to another. As the Web 
grew, so did Kantor's project, until Darpa - realizing 
how critical information manage¬ 
ment is to national security - threw 
US$1 million into the undertak¬ 
ing. Kantor and colleagues Ben¬ 
jamin Melamed and Endre 
Boros expect their ants to break 
out of the lab and tunnel onto 
the Web by 2000. 

A couple of nagging prob¬ 
lems persist. Aside from the 
inevitable pheromone abuse 
by unscrupulous marketers, 
there exists the troublesome 
issue of trendmongering. 

“Intellectual fads are dangerous and 
wasteful of time," Kantor explains, “If 
you accumulate a well-worn path to a 
particular page, how do you get people 
to another page that has surpassed it 
in value?" 

Furthermore, Web searchers them¬ 
selves are a flighty bunch. Asking them 
to rate their findings may be tough 
when online altruism - and attention 
- is in increasingly short supply. 
Admits Kantor, “A lot of our success 
will depend on not being seen as 
another flashy ad." - James Glave 


This hug is a feature: 
Rutgers University's Paul 
Kantor believes we can 
become better Web surfers 
by mimicking ants. 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 S 








Super Taster 



A hundred times more sensitive than 


current devices, this biosensor detects 
compounds such as drugs or bacteria at 
concentrations as low as 9 quadriJIionths 
of a gram per square millimeter. Created 
at The Scripps Research Institute and the 
University of California at San Diego, the 
sensor uses a chip of porous silicon - with 
an effective surface area of several square 
feet - to "taste" the biosample. 

“ Mark Frauenfelder 


Sound Technology 

his soda-bottle-sized device would make a 
I swell hood ornament on Buck Rogers's rocket 
ship - but it's what is going on inside the unit 
that's really the stuff of science fiction. Resonat¬ 
ing under the shiny sheil are sound waves of an 
astonishing amplitude - more than 1,600 times 
higher than any made by humans. Put another 
way, Los Alamos National Laboratory's Gregory 
Swift says,"If you were able to somehow find 
yourself inside the small resonating cavity of 
this device, hearing loss would be the least of 
your worries. Vour hair would catch fire." 

The technology is called resonant macro- 
sonic synthesis (RMS) r a revolutionary method 
of generating and harnessing superhigh-energy 
sound waves that's finding its first uses in home 
refrigerators and air conditioners. 

Unveiled last December in San Diego at the 
134th meeting of the Acoustical Society of Amer¬ 
ica, RMS is The i nnovation of Tim Lucas, founder 
and CEO of MacroSonix in Richmond, Virginia. 

By experimenting with gas-filled chambers 
of different cone and buib shapes, Lucas and 
his colleagues found it possible to eliminate 
the pesky shock waves that typically limit the 


energy levels of sound waves, yielding unpre¬ 
cedented pressure levels. 

Beyond home refrigeration, RMS may find 
uses in process reactors, noncontaminating 



compressors, and pumps for commercial gases 
and ultrapure or hazardous fluids (technologies 
crucial to the semiconductor and pharmaceuti¬ 
cal industries). On another front, RMS could be 
combined with pulse combustion to convert 
fuel to electric power. - Jim Leftwich 


The Great Push Forward 



T he Chinese State Economic and Trade Commission 
has unleashed its recipe for jump-starting 166 state- 
of-the-art technologies during China’s ninth Five-Year 
Plan (1996-2000). The document, which targets China’s 
industrial sectors - including electronics, transporta¬ 
tion, power generation, and telecommunications - is 
yet another quinquennial projection spewed forth by 
the Chinese government, a practice dating back to the 
early days of the People’s Republic in 1953. But don’t 

mistake the blueprint for just another 
bureaucratic wish list: it’s China’s 
high tech R&D hot sheet. 

The government hopes 
that the six Chinese firms 
slated to receive priority 
investments of 20 mil¬ 
lion yuan (US$2.4 mil¬ 
lion) each will rank 
among the world’s 500 
largest companies by 2010. 
The funding is awarded under 


one condition: the firms must promise to undergo tech¬ 
nological development while steadfastly adhering to 
state regulations. 

Though kowtowing to government policy may seem 
an anachronistic gesture in China’s increasingly market- 
driven economy, the state still calls the shots, according 
to Wei-chou Su, managing director of the US information 
Technology Office in Beijing: “The state regularly desig¬ 
nates key R&D projects where it provides the people, the 
money, and the facilities to boost development. This has 
been the tradition here, and it works quite well in the 
Chinese context." 

Literature released by the Chinese Slate Economic and 
Trade Commission also touts the efficacy of R&D “in the 
Chinese context” claiming that 1,384 new products were 
developed last year and that sales volume on these prod¬ 
ucts is expected to reach 180 billion yuan ($21 billion). 
Deng Xiaoping would be pleased: China’s cat is not only 
still catching the mouse, it's being spoon-fed multivita¬ 
mins to do Lite task even better than before. 

- Kristie Lu Stout 


Oo 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


IMAGE TOP RIGHT: TSR I BIOMEDICAL GRAPHICS: IMAGE &EL0W- LOU BEACH 









IMAG 1. BUTLER 


o 


Telecom Goes Qwest 

An upstart firm uses the Internet and state-of-the-art fiber laid alongside railroad tracks 
to offer phone service at half the going rate. By Steve G. Steinberg 


Q west Communications's December announcement 
of 7.5-cents-per-minute long distance phone ser¬ 
vice was the opening shot across the bow of the tele¬ 
com behemoths. It wasn't so much that the Denver telco 
had undercut the competition by 50 percent, it was that 
it was using voice-over-IP (VOIP) technology to do so. 

Protesting that the technology just isn't ready yet 
AT&T, Sprint, and even WorldCom have taken a caution¬ 
ary position on the idea of unifying data and voice 
over a single network. Qwest on the other hand, went 
out and did it While the big guys were captive to their 
aging networks built for voice, Qwest took advantage 
of the fact that its network was designed for data. 

"What's going on is a revolution 
in telecom," says Joseph Nacchio, 
Qwest's CEO and a former AT&T 
exec."It's going to be as dramatic 
as the shift from the telegraph 
to the telephone/echoes Nayal 
Shafei, Qwest VP and a graduate 
of the MIT Media Lab/We aren't 
a telco, we're a multimedia carrier." 

Tired rhetoric, perhaps. But the 
fact that a 6-year-old start-up 
led by an unlikely team of old telephony hands, com¬ 
puter scientists, and construction experts now has a 
market cap of US$6 billion and its competition on the 
run is reason enough to listen. And once you learn 
what Ires behind the 7.5-cenf solution, it's hard not to 
believe that Qwest is right. 

The Qwest story begins with Philip Anschutz, A bil¬ 
lionaire who made his money from oil and railroads, 
Anschutz bought Southern Pacific Railroad for $1.8 
billion in 1988 and sold it eight years later to Union 
Pacific for $5.4 billion. But the real coup was that he 
kept the rights-of-way that run parallel to Southern 
Pacific's tracks.These narrow strips of real estate 
became the basis for Qwest's network, providing a 
home for 13,000 miles of fiber-optic cable strung 
underground across the US, 

Buried alongside the train tracks are now two con¬ 
duits. The first contains state-of-the art cable,called 
nonzero dispersion-shifted fiber, that can carry far 
more data than the older fibers laid by companies like 
Sprint and AT&T during the 1980s.The second conduit 
lies empty, giving Qwest an open track to lay next- 
generation technology quickly. Combine Qwest's fiber 


The 7.5-cent solution 
for long distance 
calling: an unlikely 
team of old tele¬ 
phony hands, com¬ 
puter scientists, and 
construction experts. 


with the latest in data transmission and you have a net¬ 
work far ahead of the com petition/Our network can't 
be duplicated by the other carriers," says Nacchio/lt 
would be like trying to refurbish a 10-year-old PC with 
a new processor and hard drive rather than buying a 
brand-new one. It just doesn't make economic sense/ 

The fast-talking, straight-out-of-New Jersey Nacchio 
should know. He was the head of AT&T's consumer 
business. Nacchio maintains that the telephone com¬ 
panies aren't stupid, they're just hamstrung by their 
shareholders. 

"The telcos realize that a revolution is occurring, but 
what are they going to do?" he asks/ff they say they 
are going to cut their margins by 50 percent to com¬ 
pete in this new competitive environment, their stock 
will drop 30 points." 

Qwest isn't tied to those oid margin structures. 

The firm's Internet-savvy technology and massive net¬ 
work capacity allow it to achieve with 7.S-cent rates the 
same margins the other carriers get on tolls twice as 
high. For the most part, these savings come from lower 
equipment costs. Instead of using switches from Lucent 
or Nortel that cost tens of millions of dollars, Qwest 
uses Cisco routers priced at maybe a million. 

The savings also come from the inherent advantages 
of packet switching over circuit switching. Instead of 
tying up an entire phone line's capacity no matter how 
much is actually being sent, IP sends packets only when 
there are packets to send. Most amazing of all, none of 
this savings requires a trade-off in voice quality. 

This is all part of the plan. Right now, no one is using 
VOIP, so bandwidth isn't a problem. Still, while Qwest 
will likely be able to meet the technical challenges, the 
company is untested when it comes to functions like 
customer support. 

So what's next for Qwest? Shafei says that the com¬ 
pany will offer data services like virtual private networks 
and concurrent engineering, where engineers collabo¬ 
rate over the network using high-bandwidth CAD 
images. 

Maybe calling Qwest a multimedia carrier isn't as 
hackneyed as it sounds, m m m 


Steve G. Steinberg (steve@steinberg.org) is a Wired 
contributing editor and a consultant for a New York invest¬ 
ment firm. Portfolio managers he consults for may repre¬ 
sent the companies mentioned. 



Multimedia carrier: 
Qwest CEO Joseph 
Nacchio uses packets 
to outpace - and 
underprice - the com¬ 
petition's circuits* 


Oi 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 8 







Character Recognition Sheds Its Neurons 


H umans have a hard enough time detecting their own 
handwriting - imagine trying to make software smart 
enough to comprehend the penmanship of every sloppy 
writer on the planet, and you see the challenge optical 
character-recognition software developers have had for 
the past 30 years* 

But the suburban-Minneapolis company Silicon Biofogy 
believes that it has a far more accurate OCR program than 
its competitors, which rely on technology the firm considers 
fundamentally flawed. Dubbed Fermat, Silicon Biology's pro¬ 
gram uses a preclassification system based on a genetic 
algorithm akin to natural selection. In contrast, other OCR 
programs use a neural network based on the theories of 
the late Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov.The 
neural model studies the shape and slope of handwriting in 
determining content, while Fermat assesses the approxi¬ 
mately 20,000 ways a human could write a letter of the alpha¬ 
bet or a number 

But does Fermat really have other OCR programs beat? Yes, 
says Tony McKinley, a consultant with Pennsylvania-based 
Intelligent Imaging, who tested Fermat against 50 competi¬ 
tors. u lt f s not 100 percent accurate, but it outperformed other 
OCR systems by a factor of 50 percent or better." 


After a six-year struggle to get the firm off the ground, 
Silicon Biology founder Eric Anderholm and his staff of 30 
have begun to carve out a slice of the US$15 billion form¬ 
processing industry, attracting a handful of clients, HMOs 
and insurance companies among them. But data forms may 


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not be the only area the company applies its expertise* CEO 
Doug Johnson says that the technology can also be applied 
to classifying spoken words, Asian-language characters,and 
white blood cells (a process now performed by the naked 
eye and a microscope). - Frank Jossi 



Mugspotter 

C riminals beware: Person Spotter may be watching. 

This new face-recognition software, based on bio* 
logical vision, can spot a moving mug and know in sec¬ 
onds whether it’s on the most-wanted short list Even a 
mustache or sunglasses can’t fool the system* 

“Our goal is much more ambitious than face recogni¬ 
tion/’ says Person Spotter’s codevelopcr, University of 
Southern California professor Hartmut Me veil, who with 
his colleagues at USC and Germany’s Ruhr University- 
Bochum founded the company Eyematic Interfaces to 
bring their system to market 
Indeed, the program is advanced enough to recognize 
individuals walking into a room and will soon be able to 
determine whether the visitors are grinning or scowling* 
The process works by first identifying a person’s location 
in an image, then analyzing color and motion cues, and 
finally extracting the outlines of features at a fine scale, 
which it compares with patterns in the database. 

Person Spotter's first commercial task is to control 
access to sensitive internal areas in offices at Germany’s 
Deutsche Bank. Neven also visualizes airports using the 
system to combat terrorism by tracking passengers and 
their luggage. - David Pescaviiz 


Tiny Transmission 



The problem with motors the size 
of a grain of sand is their tom- 
mensurately puny power output* 
The solution? A micro gearbox 

- the one shown here was devel¬ 
oped at Sandia National Labora¬ 
tories - that increases the torque 
(and proportionally reduces the 
rpms) of a micromotor* This tech¬ 
nology opens up a wide range of 
applications,from satellites to 
surgical instruments* 

- Mark Frauenfelder 


□ z 




WIRED MARCH 1998 


IMAGE LEFT: SCOTT MENCHIN. IMAGE RIGHT; SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES 































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e List 


Deflating this month's overblown memes. 


By Steve G. Steinberg 


Home Networks 


+ 

On the Rise/ 
In Decline 


o @ 

Ranking Life Expectancy 
(Months) 


The hot new way to attract venture capital is to 
develop LANs for the home. Currently Tut Sys¬ 
tems and Epigram lead the pack with proprietary 
schemes to run Ethernet over existing telephone 
wire, and competitors are chomping at their 
heels. Analysts say the 11 million US homes with 


multiple PCs are proof of a burgeoning market, 
but home LANs are really driven by the desire of 
electronics manufacturers to get televisions and 
DVD players onto the Net, While the technology 
may be sound, does my TV really have anything 
to say to my PC? 



XML 


© © 


XML, say breathless advocates of Extensible 
Markup Language, will let us organize the Web, 
Any sentence involving the Web and organiza¬ 
tion should give you pause: the two concepts are 
incompatible, XML shows why. This standard 
allows subject-specific tags so that, for example. 


music reviews can be labeled <music-review>. 
To find a review, search the Web for the tag. The 
problem, of course, is that everyone must agree 
to use the same tags, which is like saying all neti 
zens must speak Esperanto - and about as likely 
to happen. 




Cable Modems 


Observing the race between telcos and cable com¬ 
panies to deliver high-bandwidth connections to 
the home is like watching a horse race between 
two lazy nags. Who wins is less surprising than 
that they even move. The most recent stumble of 
progress was made by the cable companies, who 


Juniper 




© © 


Trepanation 




Maybe it r s because everyone loves an underdog. 
Or maybe it's just what happens when a firm is 
led by a former sales and marketing executive. 

In any case, Juniper Networks, an Internet router 
start-up, has taken the vaporware prize of the 
year: It has been showered with US$55 million 



4 - ©@ 

hype-list@wired.com 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


Like most trends, this seems to have started as 
a joke. Trepanation - aka drilling a hole in your 
head - was the province of conspiracy-theory 
satirists, who melded talk of the Illuminati's third 
eye with the virtues of brain aeration. But as 
Umberto Eco so astutely comments, fringe fie- 


managed to arrive at a cable modem standard. 
That feat, according to the press, has catapulted 
cable operators into the lead. Don't believe it. 
The existence of a standard modem card doesn't 
make me any more inclined to let the cable guy 
open up my PC, 


from investors like Nortel and UUNet, it's the 
toast of the industry press, and marketingwise it 
has Cisco on the run. Yet Juniper hasn't publicly 
shown a half-working box. Of course, if the com¬ 
pany's smart, it will keep it that way. By now, 
Juniper can only disappoint. 


tion has a way of reinforcing fact, in the case of 
trepanation, accounts are growing of actual peo¬ 
ple drilling actual holes in their skulls. Subjects 
report a feeling of well-being, if not higher con¬ 
sciousness. Perhaps this comes from the sheer 
relief of surviving acts of idiocy. 
















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IMAGE: LOU BEACH 



THENETIZEN 


The Special 


Master 


Man in the middle: Lessig is 
poised to play a pivotal role in the 
antitrust case of US v. Microsoft . 


The court has ruled that Lawrence Lessig holds no anti-Microsoft bias. 

But that doesn't mean that Bill Gates should rest easy. 


L ast December, when Judge Thomas Pcnfield Jackson 
appointed Lawrence Lessig to serve as a “special 
master” in the antitrust case of US u. Microsoft, the 
news immediately plunged the quiet, 36-year-old Har¬ 
vard University law professor into the spotlight The 
San Jose Mercury News called him “techno-savvy” The 
New York Times deemed him “one of the leading intel¬ 
lectuals of his generation in American law” Microsoft’s 
lawyers were less generous, arguing that Lessig should 
be removed from the case for having shown “clear bias” 
against the company. 

Judge Jackson flatly rejected Microsoft’s bias claim, 
giving Lessig until May 31 to investigate Microsoft’s 
business practices and report “findings of fact and con¬ 
clusions of law” that the court will consider in making 
a final ruling in the antitrust case. As special master, 
Lessig has been invested with much of the authority of 
a federal judge - including the power Lo issue subpoe¬ 
nas, gather testimony, and find parties in contempt. 

Lessig’s report is likely to have a significant impact 
on the destiny of Bill Gates’s US$150 billion software 
empire. The philosophical differences between the two 
men arc noteworthy - while Gates is famous for his 
single-minded determination Lo consolidate Microsoft’s 
market dominance, Lessig is best known for his efforts to 


protect individual liberty by preserving the Internet’s 
open architecture. 

In his academic work, Lessig has considered three 
types of regulation that govern life in cyberspace. The 
first is law, “the most obvious regulatory constraint.” 
The second is social norms - the informal rules of neti¬ 
quette that guide the Internet’s complex sociology. Lessig 
believes these forms of regulation are optional because 
they function as directives that one can choose not to 
obey. But the same cannot be said for the third type of 
regulation - technological constraints inscribed into the 
Internet’s software architecture. As he wrote in this mag¬ 
azine last year, “Software code - more than law - defines 
the true parameters of freedom in cyberspace ” (See 
“Tyranny in the Infrastructure” Wired 5,07, page 9b,) 

During the months ahead, Lessig may bring these 
theories to hear in the Microsoft ease. As a law profes¬ 
sor, he proposed that “the question of what the architec¬ 
ture of cyberspace should be is not a neutral question. 
Wc need to think about it in political terms,” Now, as 
special master, he has been asked to resolve a thorny 
political controversy: Which system of regulation best 
serves the interests of cyberspace - Uncle Sam’s anti¬ 
trust laws, or Bill Gates’s operating-system code? 

- Todd Lappin 


□ 9 


WIRED MARCH 1990 





Fixing the Numbers 


The Hacker Safe House 


T he Federal Communications Commission is taking steps to stamp out fun 
and games - and perhaps illegal collusion - during spectrum auctions. In the 
past, bidders occasionally signaled one another by submitting bids for extremely 
specific amounts that could be decoded by matching each number with a corre¬ 
sponding letter on a telephone keypad- In most cases the messages were harm- 
less. During a 1995 auction for 99 wireless phone licenses - which raised US$7.7 
billion for the US Treasury - GTE was in a particularly tough battle with Sprint. 

During one round GTE bid $47,248,363 - 
i the last six digits of which spell "Bite Me," 
The FCC has long known that these mes¬ 
sages were flying around, but the agency never gave 
them much attention until it received a complaint last year from a losing bidder, 
High Plains Wireless, that claimed some bids contained secret messages that 
amounted to illegal collusion,The complaint prompted a formal investigation by 
the FCC, which, in turn, prompted the Justice Department to open its own inves¬ 
tigation. Both inquiries are ongoing. 

If the Feds adopt a strict interpretation of the law - which seems unlikely - any 
coded message could be deemed illegal, forcing the government to reauction 
dozens of licenses and delaying the delivery of wireless services to the public. 

But while the investigation continues, the FCC hopes to head off any future prob¬ 
lems by simply changing the rules of the game - players in all future spectrum 
auctions must submit bids in nice round numbers. - Mark Lewyn 




On the sixth floor of an office building in 
midtown Manhattan, the studio space of 
Network Development Labs serves as an 
after-hours playpen for 11 hackers who 
have banded together to split the cost of 
rent, utilities, and a T1 Internet connec¬ 
tion- Notwork also serves as a sort of safe 
house - hackers from Amsterdam and 
London have bedded down in the studio, 
which has also been host to underground 
luminaries Phiber Optik and Rernie Salt's 
not a hostel," says Notwork member Ryan 
Nelson. "But we've got lots of friends from 
other places who prefer a crash pad with 
a T1 to a US$140 hotel." - Ben Greenman 


Privacy Imperfect 

I n the summer of 1996 Internet users raised 
a ruckus after learning that the P-Trak 
service run by Lexis-Nexis was selling indi¬ 
viduals 7 Social Security numbers, addresses, 
and unlisted phone numbers. The outcry 
prompted members of Congress to consider 
legislation that would prevent credit bureaus 
from selling such information to lookup 
services such as P-Trak. Instead, Federal 
Trade Commission chair Robert Pitofsky 
persuaded a lew key senators to accept his 
mantra that “voluntary regulation by indus¬ 
tries works best” 

In December Pitofsky unveiled an agree¬ 
ment among the government, lookup ser¬ 
vices, and credit bureaus. Among the 14 
parties to the agreement, three major credit 
bureaus and two “information brokers” 
have been previously cited by the FTC for 
violating consumer regulations, while three 
of the lookup service operators have been 
caught violating the ethical guidelines of 



the Direct Marketing Association. 

The new plan establishes a set of 
self-regulation principles that will be 
monitored by independent auditors. 

Critics charge that the proposals don't 
go nearly far enough to protect individual 
privacy, CrediL bureaus can still sell person¬ 
al information obtained from credit reports. 
On the other hand, the plan requires the 
services to provide marketers only limited 
access to sensitive information, to certify 
that certain “qualified subscribers” - like 
law enforcement agencies and private 
investigators - use the information only for 
“appropriate uses ” and to deny the gener¬ 
al public access. The agreement also gives 
consumers the opportunity to have personal 
data removed from the databases, all hough 
in practice it provides no way to find out 
which services maintain the information, 
or how to get in touch with them. 

- Robert Ellis Smith 


mm.me 


iiliMU M fc i 


\ 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ OD 


IMAGES fFROM TO P LEFT): SCOTT MENCHINj KLAUS 5CHOEWWIESE; LBU BEACH 










© 


Mergers ^Consolidations 

After helping to defeat the CDA, grassroots activists may 
become victims of their own success. By Rebecca Vesely 


A ccording to Jon Lebkowsky, cofounder of EFF- 
Austin, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike 
down the Communications Decency Act was great 
for the Internet, but horrible for his seven-year-old 
activist organization. “After the CDA decision, there 
wasn't a lot of energy for EFF-Austm/ Lebkovrsky 
says. “Grassroots organizations are strongest when 
there is a demon defined” 

The CDA challenge marked the first time that 
civil liberties activists used the Internet to reach 
the public, and their success provided an impres¬ 
sive demonstration of the medium’s political 
potential. Online demonstrations, such as the 
Paint the Web Black effort of 
1995, were simple, cheap, and 
extremely effective. But today, 
as Internet issues like privacy, 
security, and content control 
move into the mainstream, 
many small online groups feel 
that large organizations like the 
ACLU have taken over their 
niche. “In the post-CDA world, 
our role is to gather informa¬ 
tion and do research, which can 
then be used by larger groups 
that can afford to file expensive legal cases ” says 
Bennett Haselton, founder of Feacefire, an online 
activist group for minors. 

Last year Haselton, a Vanderbilt University stu¬ 
dent, revealed that Cybersitter, a popular Internet 
filtering program, blocked access to such sites as 
Mother Jones magazine, the National Organization 
for Women, and organizations for gay and lesbian 
youths- “Bennett is a good example of the effec¬ 
tiveness of grassroots organizing ” says Jonah 
Seiger, an Internet consultant and former com¬ 
munications director for the well-heeled Center 
for Democracy and Technology in Washington, DC. 
“We wouldn't be having a debate over blocking 
software if it wasn’t for Bennett” 

The White House’s new hands-off approach 
to the Net has only made things worse for small 
groups by intensifying the struggle to garner sup¬ 
port. “Apathy is rampant,” says Scott Brower, 
executive director of EFFlorida, which, like EFF- 
Austin, is not affiliated with the better-known San 


Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. 
“People are happy to hear we are doing this work, 
but when it comes to getting them to volunteer, 
it’s difficult to get anyone to commit ” 

The groups that have done the best in the post- 
CDA climate are those that have honed in on a 
single, high-profile topic. NetActiom a two-person 
activist shop in Northern California, now focuses 
primarily on its campaign to “stop Microsoft from 
seizing control of cyberspace.” Sun Microsystems, 
one of Microsoft’s chief nemeses, gave NetAction 
an undisclosed sum of money Iasi fall. 

But most other grassroots groups do not have 
corporate sponsors, “We chose not to seek corpo¬ 
rate dollars, because we did not feel we could 
compete with Washington insiders ” says Shahbir 
J, Safdar, founder and advisory board member of 
the New York-based Voters Telecommunications 
Watch. In December Safdar stepped down as head 
of VTW to start an Internet consulting firm in 
Washington, DC, leaving the future of VTW hang¬ 
ing in the balance. And some activists complain 
that foundations consistently reject funding pro¬ 
posals from small groups and that most grant 
money for online activism is directed toward proj¬ 
ects that help disseminate internet technology. 

Although money is definitely an issue for the 
small groups, the nature of online activism keeps 
costs low, “The Web server is our only expense, 
and til at costs about a dollar a day,” says Peace- 
lire’s Haselton. EFF-Austin supported itself for 
years on T-shirt sales and special book-signing 
parties by cofounder and SF author Bruce Ster¬ 
ling* Anti, as for all the paperwork needed to get 
nonprofit status for tax deductions, most haven’t 
gotten around to it. 

When another big free-speech fight comes 
around, grassroots groups say they will be ready. 
But for now, many are looking for ways to consol¬ 
idate resources. In January, EFF-Austin decided to 
change its name to EF-Texas, in hopes of attract¬ 
ing activists from other parts of the Lone Star State. 
“It’s tough/ says Lebkowsky. “Getting these guys 
together is like trying to organize anarchists ” ■ a e 


Rebecca Vesely (rebv@ix.nelcom.com) wrote u The 
Generation Gap” in Wired 5.10. 


As large, professional 
groups move to the 
forefront, smaller 
online organizations 
are struggling to 
cope with rampant 
user apathy and a 
new range of cyber 
rights issues. 



“A few years back, 
we had Internet issues 
all to ourselves/ 1 says 
Jon Lebkowsky of 
EF-Texas/'But today 
the environment for 
online activism has 
become saturated/ 1 


□on 


WIRED MARCH 1998 







o 

Mr.OConnel Goes to Concord 



T o understand who really has clout in 
the political world, follow the money- 
Marcus O’Connell, a financial analyst in 
Concord, California, heard rumors that 
property developers were giving large 

sums of cash to members of the 
city council, but when he visited 
city hall to check the contribu¬ 
tion records, he found a handful 
of documents stuffed in a binder, 
“We needed a database” O'Con¬ 
nell says. “It's the only way to 
make sense of all the different 
entries” 

Inspired, O'Connell became 
the first private citizen in the 
United States tci compile a data¬ 
base of local campaign contributions and 
post it on the Web {pwp.value.net/maFcus 
/campjinf). Other such resources exist in 
cyberspace, but they mostly concern state 
and federal campaigns and are produced 
by experts at nonprofit organizations, 
O’Ctmn ell’s effort was a one-man job. 


created with Excel spreadsheet software 
to shed a little light on politics in his 
hometown. 

O'Connell’s number crunching has 
shown that members of the Concord City 
Council have long been accepting heavy- 
duty contributions From local developers, 
sanitation companies, and lawyers. His 
most eye-opening revelation was the dis¬ 
closure that since 1995, Bill Graham Pre¬ 
sents, a national concert promoter, has 
sidestepped contribution caps and Tun¬ 
neled more than US$11,000 to council 
members through company employees 
who made some 27 separate donations. 
Coincidentally, the council recently 
approved a costly overhaul of the Concord 
Pavilion, a lavish, city-ow r ned outdoor 
amphitheater and concert venue, 

O’Connell hopes the Net can put voters 
hack iu the game by giving them until- 
lered access to information, “We have the 
capability now,” O’Connell points out 
“IPs in our hands” - David Lazarus 


Pirates Beware 



Next time, think twice before you 
copy that floppy. On December 16, 
President Clinton signed the No 
Electronic Theft Act, a measure 
sponsored by Representative Bob 
Goodlatte (RVirginia) that crimi¬ 
nalizes the unauthorized "repro¬ 
duction or distribution" of computer 
software, books, musical recordings, 
or videos worth at least US$1,000, 
Designed to dose a loophofe that 
may have legalized noncommercial 
duplication of copyrighted material, 
the new law targets "any person 
who infringes copyright willfully/ 
with criminal penalties that range 
from fines to six years in prison. 

* Todd Lappin 


Maximum Copyright, Minimum use 



WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 B 


O verprotective digital-copyright rules, much like the ones that were proposed and 
rejected at a December 1996 diplomatic conference in Geneva, have resurfaced in 
the European Community's latest plan to implement the World Intellectual Property 
Organization Copyright Treaty. Under the proposals, nations of the European Union would 
be required to treat almost all temporary and indirect copies of copyrighted works in 
digital form as "reproductions" subject to copyright regulation. In addition, the legislation 
would curtail the authority of EU nations to enact or maintain fair or private-use privileges 
in their national laws,The measure also contains a byzantine provision that would outlaw 
many legitimate technologies that have incidental infringement-enabling uses. 

This may be good news for US high tech companies, as the EC's overzealous copyright 
proposals could strangle Europe's nascent high technology industry. On the other hand, 
if copyright maximalism prevails in Europe, Clinton administration officials may try to 
resurrect similar legislation that has been stalled in Congress for the fast two years. For¬ 
tunately, Senator John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) and Representatives Rick Boucher (O-Virginla} 
and Tom Campbell (R-California) have introduced legislation in Congress that is far more 
enlightened and balanced - in the form of S 1146 and HR 3048. Meanwhile, the European 
proposal may improve when it's reviewed by the European Parliament and the European 
Council of Ministers, particularly if opponents lobby for changes along the lines of the 
As he roft- Bo u c he r -C a m p be 11 b i i I s. - Pam eia Samu eison 


QoQ 


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ENCYCLOPEDIA 


NEW ECONOMY 

By John Browning and Spencer Reiss 




So what is the new economy? 

When we talk about the new economy, we’re talking about a world in 
which people work with their brains instead of their hands. A world 
in which communications technology creates global competition - 
not just for running shoes and laptop computers, but also for bank 
loans and other services that can’t be packed into a crate and 
shipped. A world in which innovation is more important than mass 
production. A world in which investment buys new concepts or the 
means to create them, rather than new machines. A world in which 
rapid change is a constant. A world at least as different from what 
came before it as the industrial age was from its agricultural pre¬ 
decessor. A world so different its emergence can only be described 
as a revolution. 


Q o Ef 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


annri 
























mm 


ENCYCLOPEDIA ov the NEW ECONOMY 


Free markets are central to it. The Soviet 
Union's collapse settled the debate between 
market economies and planned ones. But 
simply to say that the new economy is about 
the unprecedented power of global markets 
to innovate, to create new wealth, and to dis¬ 
tribute it more fairly is to miss the most inter¬ 
esting part of the story. Markets themselves 
are changing profoundly. To understand that, 
start by examining the mystery of Microsoft. 

The fact that Bill Gates is the world's richest 
man belies a huge shift in the values of capi¬ 
talism. Microsoft has annual sales of US$11 
billion, and most of its assets walk in and out 
of the doors wearing T-shirts. Vet the stock 
market values the company at well over $150 
billion - far more than either IBM (sales $76 
billion, market cap $100 billion) or General 
Motors (sales $160 billion, market cap $50 
billion). Why? Because the rules of competi¬ 
tion are changing to favor companies like 
Microsoft over paragons of the industrial age. 

Microsoft’s rise is a testimony to the power 
of ideas in the new economy. Working with 
information is very different from working with 
the steel and glass from which our grandpar¬ 
ents built their wealth. 

Information is easier to produce and harder 
to control than stuff you can drop on your 
foot. For a start, computers can copy it and 
ship it anywhere, almost instantly and almost 
for free. Production and distribution, the basis 
of industrial power, can increasingly be taken 
for granted. Innovation and marketing are all. 

So an information economy is more open - 
it doesn't take a production line to compete, 
just a good idea. But it’s also more competi¬ 
tive. Information is easy not just to duplicate, 
but to replicate. Successful firms have to keep 
innovating to keep ahead of copycats nipping 
at their heels. The average size of companies 
shrinks. New products and knockoffs alike 
emerge in months rather than years, and mar¬ 
ket power is increasingly based on making 


TnaTr? 


sense of an overabundance of ideas rather than 
rationing scarce material goods. Each added 
connection to a network’s pool of knowledge 
multiplies the value of the whole - one reason 
for Microsoft's astonishing growth. The result: 
new rules of competition, new sorts of organi¬ 
zation, new challenges for management. 

Some zealots talk about a New Economy, 
capital N, capital E, all too easily caricatured 
as "there won't be inflation anymore, because 
of technological change." Alas, as Stanford 
economist Paul Romer has reminded us, “If a 
majority of the Fed’s board of governors decided 
to have 20 percent inflation, they could have it 
in a year, possibly in months.” Then there’s the 
idea that recessions are things of the past. This 
comes up at the end of every expansion. 

What's true is that the shift to an information 
economy is redefining how we need to think 
about both good times and bad. We don't know 
how to measure this new economy, because 
the productivity of a decisionmaker is harder 
to grasp than the productivity of someone bolt¬ 
ing together cars. We don’t know how to man¬ 
age its companies, because decisionmakers 
can’t be told what to do. We don’t know how 
to compete in it, because information seeps 
so easily that supermarkets now offer banking 
services and Amazon.com has infiltrated its vir¬ 
tual bookshelves into Web sites the world over. 
We don't know how to oversee it, or whether it 
ultimately needs oversight at all. 

A final thing we don't know is where - or how 
- the revolution will end. We are building it 
together, all of us, by the sum of our collective 
choices. To help inform the architects of this 
new world, we’ve assembled an Encyclopedia 
of the New Economy. Part I starts here. Parts 
II and III will follow in Wirecfs next two issues. 
Read on, pioneer. 

- John Browning 

John Browning fjb^iopterxorni Is a Wired confrrdtJ^g editor based In 
Loudon; Spencer Reiss is a senior editor M Wired. Additional reporting 
by Kevin Meherand Mating! Kuruvifa. 


WIRED MARCH 199 


O o □ 


uril) > « n»n 





























IMAGE HIGE.L HOLMES 


ENCYCLOPEDIA of the NEW ECONOMY 


Adhocracy Organization without structure . 

Adhocracies have long been used by creative enterprises - 
film studios and ad agencies, for instance - to produce a 
steady flow of differentiated products. They are a mirror 
image of the well-defined bureaucracies that built most 
industrial organizations; instead of a strict rule book, there 
exists an evolving collection of shared goals. Start-up soft¬ 
ware companies are a classic example. Instead of fixed 
tasks and job descriptions, everyone does what needs to 
be done. Computer networks encourage adhocracy by 
enabling people to continuously share information and 
coordinate themselves informally. 


Attention economy A marketplace based on the idea that 
while information is essentially infinite, demand for it is 
limited by the waking hours in a human day. 

Attention economics has been around for at least as long 
as there have been commercial media, whose true prod¬ 
ucts are not sitcoms (or magazines), but eyeballs for adver¬ 
tisers. Interactive media take this concept a step further; 
they allow attention - say, a Web site's traffic - to be 
bought, sold, or bartered and instantly shipped to other 
sites anywhere in the world. And the whole business can be 
scaled up to a billion people watching the Olympics or 
down to a custom-tailored audience of you. 

Attention economics helps explain some of the Net’s 
seeming commercial anomalies, including the explosive 
growth of high-visibility navigation sites like Yahoo! and 
the proliferation of free (to the user) products and ser¬ 
vices. Another example is the skyrocketing value of bank¬ 
able sports, film, and TV stars who can catch eyes amid 
the fray. In an ever more trafficked world, tools for get¬ 
ting (and keeping) attention will be increasingly valuable. 

AT&T, breakup of The beginning of the end for old-fashioned 
telecom monopolies and the first step toward truly global 
data networks. 

In January 1984 an antitrust agreement negotiated by 
US federal judge Harold Greene forced what was then the 
world's largest company to spin off the seven Baby Bells 
and open the US long distance phone market to competi¬ 
tion. Starting with MCI and Sprint, the result has been 
lower prices, better performance, and an explosion of 



new companies and services, which continues today with 
everything from digital cell phones and callback services 
to low-Earth-orbit satellites and upstart Internet-based 
networks such as WorldCom and Qwest. 

AT&T's breakup reflects a fundamental change in think¬ 
ing about the nature of telecommunications. Traditional 
cop per-wire-based telcos were seen as “natural" monopo¬ 
lies, endowed with insurmountable economies of scale. 
But technological advances - from fiber-optic cable and 
computerized switching to such mundane matters as auto¬ 
mated billing - have transformed telecom into a fluid, 
increasingly global market. 

Since 1984 more than 40 state-owned telcos around 
the world have been privatized and opened to competi¬ 
tion. Sheer size still gives entrenched telecom giants for¬ 
midable clout. But prices for voice and data transmission 
continue to plummet - a key to the new economy's growth. 

Bailout, IMF Financial life support for developing countries 
that overdose on free-flowing global capital 
Since 1990 investors chasing double-digit annual returns 
have poured more than $1.2 trillion into emerging-market 
economies. But unreformed local banking systems have 
often failed to keep pace, steering the new funds to politi¬ 
cal cronies and overhyped industrial projects. Eventually, 
their currencies weaken, speculators attack, and loans 
collapse. Then Lhe International Monetary Fund is called 
to provide emergency financing, most recently the $100 
billion-plus in rescue packages extended to South Korea 
and other Asian “tigers" late last year. 

The IMF, a staid central bankers’ club headquartered in 
Washington, DC, worries about the risk to an increasingly 
global economy of allowing even a second-rank economy 
like Thailand's or Malaysia's to collapse. But critics say 
that bailouts are themselves part of the problem, provid¬ 
ing a de facto safety net for Lhe big international banks 
and encouraging more market-distorting bad lending. 

Bandwidth A network's carrying capacity rarely sufficient. 
The term bandwidth used to mean the size of the slice of 
the radio spectrum available for a transmission. Today it 
is mostly used to describe the rate at which information - 
measured in bits of data per second - can move between 
computers. As such, bandwidth determines a network's 
ability to deliver information goods and services. But that 
also makes it one of the new economy’s key limiting fac¬ 
tors - ask a Web surfer stuck with a 28.8-Kbps modem, 
or consider MTV pondering (in the near term, anyway) 
online music videos. 

Fiber-optic cable - currently being laid as fast as back- 
hoes can dig trenches - and the late arrival of TV's deep- 
pocketed cavalry are changing that. lhndit George Gil¬ 
der has proposed a bandwidth corollary of Moore's Law: 
Backbone capacity will triple annually for the next quar¬ 
ter century. It could happen. Already, corporate Internet 
users are measuring their access in gigabits per second - 
sufficient to start realizing the trillion-dollar pipe dream 
of TV and Internet convergence. Meanwhile, the $2 billion, 


WIRED MARCH 1996 




























ENCYCLOPEDIA «.i T ns NEW ECONOMY 


Denver-based telco Qwest is building From scratch a new 
US network with a top capacity of 2 terabits (2 trillion bits) 
per second - sufficient to transmit the entire contents of 
the Library of Congress cross-country in 20 seconds* 

The astonishing economies of fiber-optics have revived 
- more quietly, this l ime - a version of the nuclear-power 
industry's old slogan: bandwidth could someday be “too 
cheap to meter” But for homes in particular, despite talk 
of wireless solutions, there remains the "last mile” prob¬ 
lem of pulling fiber to individual customers* And then 
there is a question that the old economy answered by Forc¬ 
ing regulated phone monopolies to provide universal ser¬ 
vice: Should everyone go to bandwidth heaven together? 

Big Bang The birth of global financial markets. 

On October 27,1986, the London Stock Exchange followed 
its New York cou nterpart an d abu 1 ished fi xed co m m issions 
on share trading, setting up a free-for-all. What came to be 
called the Big Bang also abolished internal market restric¬ 
tions and vacated its 100-year-old trading floor in favor of 
a 11-electronic operations. 

Since then, deregulated trading has made markets more 
efficient, more fluid, and more popular around the world. 
The value of international shares traded on I he London 
Exchange now totals more than £1 trillion (US$t,f> trillion) 
annually - a third again more than its turnover in British 
shares. Indeed, the growth of global financial trading has 
been the most spectacular result of disembodied electronic 
markets. The value of cross-border share and bond trading 
has grown more Lhan 5,000-fnld since 1980, and $1,4 tril¬ 
lion worth of foreign exchange is traded through the world’s 
computers each day. The result: a continuous global plebis¬ 
cite - not just on each company's business prospects, but 
also on each government’s economic management. 

Big Mac Index A streetwise aid tm tor of the comparative 
value of major world currencies , 

Invented by the London-based magazine The Economist, the 
Big Mac Index uses an edible icon of globalization as a kind 
of new economy gold standard* Its basis is the price of the 
signature McDonald’s hamburger, converted into US dol¬ 
lars. Because the fast-food giant’s production methods and 
pricing policies are standardized worldwide, the operating 



assumption is that month-Lo-month price differences from 
country to country reflect local currencies getting out of 
whack with fundamental costs and economic efficiencies. 

Union Bank of Switzerland does a purchasing-power 
version, comparing how long the average wage earner in 
various countries needs to work to earn enough money to 
buy a Big Mac. At the end of 1997, the longest time needed 
was just under two hours, in Caracas, Venezuela; the short¬ 
est, in Tokyo, was nine minutes. 

Bionomics Economies as ecosystems , not machines , 
Bionomics is a popular notion spanning a variety of new 
economy concepts, including evolutionary economics and 
complexity theory. Advanced by the Bionomics Institute, 
based in San Rafael, California, its core idea is that indi¬ 
viduals, companies, and markets exist in a complex, adap¬ 
tive web, in which technological advance is analogous to 
biological evolution. 



Bloomberg "box” 

Instant financial 
news, analysis, 
and real-time 
numbers, on 
demand 24 
hours a day. 


Bloomberg The icon of real-time finamial information . 
Michael Bloomberg, a former top trader at what was then 
Salomon Brothers, launched his New York-based private 
company in 1981 - a proprietary electronic network featur¬ 
ing instantaneous data and complex analytics for markets 
around the world. Along with competing versions from 
Reuters and Dow t Jones Telerale, Bloomberg’s “box” - in 
its latest incarnation, a sleek pair of LCD screens leased 
by brokerage houses and banks for $1,160 a month - has 
become both a vital tool for managing money and a cru¬ 
cial synapse in the global economy’s central nervous sys¬ 
tem, Meanwhile, Bloomberg itself, still privately held, has 
grown into a $1 billion-a-year media giant, with tentacles 
in television, radio, and the Web. 

Brand 77m commercial equivalent of reputation. 

Brands are guideposts for consumers wondering through 
the new economy’s ever more bewildering blizzard of 
choices. Long associated with ho-hum consumer prod¬ 
ucts, branding is an antidote to commoditized production 
and brutal price competition. Even for behind-the-scenes 
technology companies, the idea of so-called trustmarks 
like “Intel Inside” may provide insurance against bolt- 
from-tlie-bhie technological change (hello, IBM). Indeed, 
some management theorists argue that brands should be 
valued as an asset on corporate balance sheets - although 
none have yet been able to answer the all-important ques¬ 
tion of exactly how to place a value on this asset* 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9S 


IMAGE BELOW. NIGEL HOLMES 











I MACt ABOVE: J - P. ft INI 0 1 99B THE CARTOON BANK; [WAGE BELOW. MICHAEL NORTHROP 


ENCYCLOPEDIA of the NEW ECONOMY 


of the real world. But Lhe understanding they create may 
support people's own instincts and judgments. Even if 
they cannot predict prices, for example, traders hope that 
a new breed of computer simulations may at least predict 
when markets are heading for a bout of volatility* 


Capital Stored value that can be used to produce more value. 
In industrial economies, capital means machines or the 
money to bny them* Today the term just as often means 
knowledge, brands, intellectual property such as databases 
and software, or even vaguer notions like social capital - 
the trust that enables people to work together on a hand¬ 
shake rather than an expensively negotiated contract. 

Electronic networks are fueling this process by increas¬ 
ing both the range of what can usefully be defined as capi¬ 
tal and the speed with which il can move* The more kinds 
of capital there are - and the Taster it moves - the greater 
the number of people who can share in the wealth. There 
is another term for this: economic growth. 

Capitalism A global economic system rooted in free enter¬ 
prise, private property and open markets; the way we all 
do business now * 

The heart of capitalism is a feedback mechanism, profit, 
which rewards activities that people appreciate sufficiently 
to pay for. Communism and even socialism lacked that, or 
expressed it imperfectly. And as technologies have grown 
more complex, capitalism's unparalleled ability to give 
people what they want - to match supply wiLh demand 
- has largely obliterated Us centrally planned rivals in 
a roar of economic grow th* 

Instead of socialism versus capitalism, the great debates 
of the 21st century are likely to pit interpretations of capi¬ 
talism against one another* indeed, battle lines are already 
being drawn - over trade, intellectual property, and equal 
access to technology. 

Chaos theory Ways to extract signals from noise. 

No equations can predict the growth of an oak tree - or, in 
the classic example, whether a butterfly flapping its wings 
can cause a storm a month later and 10,000 miles away. 
But computers can simulate such phenomena nonetheless 
by starting from a few simple rules that describe a process 
and then applying them thousands or millions of times. 

Researchers are using this insight - and powerful com¬ 
puters - to understand everything from foreign-exchange 
markets to the movement of crowds. The models are not 
great at prediction. Even when the rules are understood, 
it’s hard to capture all Lhe factors that affect the evolution 




Churn Oust omer d isloyalty 

Ever faster innovation means more possibilities for cus¬ 
tomers to decide they doiTt really like your product after 
all - or to realize that someone else has a cheaper, faster, 
or better version* And the new economy’s ever more 
efficient markets make it less costly - in money, time, or 
both - for consumers to make the move. 

AOL learned all about churn when it developed a 
busy-signal problem late in 1906 and tens of thousands 
of expensively acquired customers bolted to less-popular 
rivals. Long distance phone services and credit card com¬ 
panies encourage defectors by spewing millions of pieces 
of junk mail - and, more recently, Internet banner ads - 
offering everything from reduced rates and frequent-flier 
miles to cash* 

Internet retailing looks to be churn’s next great frontier* 
Ecommerce pioneers are responding with new ways to 
build customer loyalty - personalized service, for example* 
But aggregators like Yahoo! and Excite make it pathetically 
easy to click from one e-shop to another - even as loca¬ 
tion, store layout, and other traditional tools for building 
competitive advantage vanish* 

Commoditization The process by which the complex and the 
difficult become simple and easy - so simple and easy that 
anybody can do them * and does. 

Commoditization is a natural outcome of competition and 
technological advance: people learn better ways to make 
things and how to do so cheaper and faster. Prices plunge 
and essential differences vanish - look at cheap PCs or 
mass-market consumer electronics* 

The new economy puts commoditization into over¬ 
drive, speeding the flows of information, component 
parts, and finished products to the point where products 
can progress from idea to commodity seemingly over¬ 
night. The only real antidotes are barriers to entry - 


WIRED MARCH 1928 


















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ENCYCLOPEDIA or toe NEW ECONOMY 


say, a niche market too small to attract big competition. 

Or innovation sufficiently rapid to stay ahead of the pack. 
Or - if technology itself doesn't conspire to under min e it 
- an old-fashioned monopoly. 

Community Aggregated people. 

In the physical world, communities are typically groups of 
people - a town, for instance - held together despite their 
d i ffe re n ces. V i rtu a I c 0111 m u n i 1 1 es a re d i H e ren t: t h ey 1 're 
people held together by their similarities. The members 
of, say, a chat group about the TV show Friends are all 
interested in that subject and “talk" only about it. Rarely 
does anyone discover the things over which they differ. 

15nt that same homogeneity gives virtual communities 
immense (though still mainly potential) economic clout. 
They bring likely customers together in one place, cheaply 
and easily - not a bad definition of a market. And, for con¬ 
sumers, they provide free help and service, along with 
valuable purchasing, market research, and R&D advice. 

One problem is that virtual communities aren’t bound 
together very tightly - no one even knows youTe leaving. 
And there are too many other places to go if the one you’re 
in starts unraveling. 

Complexity theory The study of how and why targe systems 
behave in ways unexplainable by the sum of their parts . 
Free markets are probably the best example of complex 
adaptive systems, as they’re known by researchers at 
places like New Mexico's Santa Fe Institute. Players pur¬ 
sue nothing more than their own gain and interests. Yet 
the result - in theory - is the fairest possible distribution 
of goods and resources. Indeed, much of today's economics 


1 V | 

CHAOTIC 

JjfL 

COMPLEX 

stock market 

oak tree 

IBM 0i 

salmon rtTf ; 

roulette 

backgammoii 

ueatfoer 

rain fait *\ 

Internet 

f reeuays^ 


is the practical study of these properties - figuring out 
w T hen w r e can trust markets to produce fairness and when 
we need government to intervene. 

Complexity theory, which originated in the study of nat¬ 
ural environments, also helps explain how T feedback loops 
can cause systems to stall. Whether it's outdated telecom 
restrictions or billion-doliar food subsidies, it's as easy to 
create vicious cycles as virtuous ones. The good news is 
that by helping to recognize the myriad ways in which sys¬ 
tems can unintentionally screw up, complexity theory pro¬ 
vides new tools for fixing them - and creates new respect 
for the ways they can unintentionally succeed. 



Coopetition Coopera don b et w ee n comp et i to rs. 

Altruism doesn't have to be the opposite of self-interest. 
Sometimes - when trying to create a new market or hedge 
the risks oF an expensive innovation - it can he a way to 
get what you want. 

Coopetition - alliance, in tin 1 ease of uoncompetitors 
- is especially common in the computer industry, where 
consumers want to know in advance that a broad range 
o f com pan i es wi 11 snp po Ft a gi v e n te ch notQgy. Companies 
cooperating helps such markets grow fasLer, without 
requiring prolonged periods lo shake ouL competing tech¬ 
nologies. 1 l also helps focus scarce resources - though not 
necessarily on what is ultimately the best technology. 

Coopetition often involves companies agreeing not Lo 
battle in one market even as they fight like dogs in others: 
witness the current “grand alliance” of Sun, JEM, Apple, 
and Netscape, which is supporting the open programming 
language .lava to undermine Microsoft's market power. 
More commonly, companies will compete on actual prod¬ 
ucts even as they cooperate on technical standards, sacri¬ 
ficing a degree of independence to increase the odds of 
success for the technology as a whole. Look at the huge 
success of American Airlines in opening its Sabre reser¬ 
vation system to competing carriers. 

Needless to say, coopetition makes antitrust authorities 
nervous. There is an old-fashioned word for competitors 
who agree not to compete - cartel , with its overtures of 


Convergence Bits are bits - 

It’s the quintessential new economy idea: translate every¬ 
thing, from Seinfeld to your kid’s homework, into the digi¬ 
tized Is and Os of computer language, then make it all 
available anywhere in the world via Lhe Net. Rig dollars 
are already being wagered on the prospect nTTV and PC 
convergence - lhe idea LhaL the two most powerful devices 
of the late 20th century can he merged into a single seam¬ 
less information system. (Oh. and throw in the telephone, 
too.) It is a mesmerizing vision with profound ramifica¬ 
tions for the corporate media landscape of the not-too- 
distant future. Stay tuned. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


IMAGE ABOVE: ROBERT MANKOFF © 199B THE CARTOON BANK; IMAGE BELOW: MICHAEL NORTHROP 




















IMAGE ABOVE: NIGEL HOLMES: IMAGE BELOW. JACK ZIEGLER C 1997 THE NEW YORKER COLLECTION 


ENCYCLOPEDIA or the NEW ECONOMY 


price fixing. Today’s regulators appreciate the theoretical 
advantages of coo petition, but in practice they still want 
to be sure that they can distinguish it from old-fashioned 
collusion. And as Microsoft's on-again, off-again antitrust 
investigation shows, separating new ways of doing things 
right from old ways of doing things wrong is far from easy. 

Cycle time How long it takes to bring a new product to 
market or to upgrade an existing one . 

Prior to the industrial revolution, cycle times could often 
be measured in centuries. They've been declining ever 
since, pulled along by ever larger and ever hungrier mar¬ 
kets and pushed by increasingly supple technology. Detroit 


Cycle Times for Key Products 





Automobile Japan, 199CK5 years 


J Hardware microprocessors 18 months 
Software Internet browsers 9 months 
Web site average start-up time 3 months 


Automobile US. 1970s ID years 


to help them keep an eye on what workers are up to 
(including who's wasting time playing Quake). But decen¬ 
tralized managers also face a novel question: To what 
extent can they still consider themselves to be in chaTge? 

Deflation Falling prices ♦ 

Some otherwise reasonable people worry that the ever 
more efficient new economy will bury us in an avalanche 
of goods - a global glut. Their fear is a replay of the 1930s: 
tumbling prices, vaporized profits, supply running far 
ahead of demand. 

Deflation is indeed happening in a few markets - look 
at the price of computer chips or long distance phone 
calls. Bui the price of many other things is definitely not 
falling (Silicon Valley real estate, for starters). The price 
of the average ear is stable or even rising - though what 
you get is a vastly superior product. 

What technology undeniably has done is raise the speed 
of innovation in the economy. That means certain indus¬ 
tries will suddenly find themselves faced with falling prices 
and slumping demand - not because the whole economy is 
going into a deflation-induced slump, but simply because 
somebody else has come up with products and services 
that people would prefer to buy. It's unhappy for anyone 
on the downside of an innovation cycle. But far from crip¬ 
pling the economy, that sort of change Is precisely what 
produces continued innovation and grow-th. 


automakers could stretch a basic model change over a 
decade; competition from the swifter Japanese changed 
Lhat. Today exhausted Web developers talk about “Internet 
Lime ” where the cycle time gets close to zero - essentially, 
nonstop continuous change and innovation* 

Data mining Extra ding kn owledge from mformatio n . 

The combination of fast computers, cheap storage, and 
better communication makes it easier by the day to tease 
useful information out of everything from supermarket 
buying patterns to credit histories. For clevel' marketeers, 
that knowledge can be worth as much as the stuff real 
miners dig from the ground. 

More than 95 percent of US companies now use some 
form of data mining - often nothing more than mailing 
lists, but increasingly the more sophisticated psycho- 
graphic profiles of potential customers that make privacy 
advocates shake, it’s a perfect hot-button political issue: 
Whose data is it, anyway? 

Decentralization Decisionmaking moved from the center 
of an organization to the edges . 

What do you expect w r hen companies give every employee 
a computer, a telephone, and an Internet connection? 

Decentralization is an inevitable consequence of an 
information economy, where communications and pro¬ 
cessing power are cheap, time is short, and enterprises 
span the globe. And that means empowering decision¬ 
makers down to the lowest level. 

Managers count on those same information networks 


Deregulation What happens when governments have to 
compete for capital and labor. 

Opening up telecom to competition helped kick-start the 
new economy. And as the resulting economies become ever 
more fluid, government intervention in economic processes 
- or the lack of it - is becoming simply another factor of 
production, in Waiter Wriston's famous phrase, “Money 
goes where it is wanted and stays where it is well treated " 
So, bureaucrats be warned: Regulate at your peril. 





Digital signatures The life blood of electro nic co mmerce a nd 
citizenship. 

Digital signatures - John Hancocks for electronic docu¬ 
ments - are a key tool in making cyberspace a place where 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 S 























































ENCYCLOPEDIA oi NEW ECONOMY 


people can do things besides hunt down information. Like 
I heir pen-and-ink counterparts, they establish identity and 
so can also be used to establish legal responsibility. Unlike 
real-world signatures* they can also establish the complete 
authenticity of whatever they are affixed to - in effect* cre¬ 
ating a tamper-proof seal. 

Governments from Germany to Utah have given digital 
signatures at least the same legal status as the paper kind. 
But electronic autographs have also become embroiled in 
Ihe general cryptography debate. Security services don’t 
want people - criminals, to be specific - using strong 
crypto. Unfortunately, Ihe same technology is also needed 
to create forgery-proof signatures. And so far - at least in 
the United States - the police aren’t giving ground. 

Discontinuity Change so all-encompassing that it transforms 
even the standards by which change is measured . 
Discontinuities are bolts from the blue - most often tech¬ 
nological, but sometimes social or political (wars* for 
instance). Sudden shifts in the competitive landscape are 
not unique to the new economy - ask your local horse- 
and-buggy salesman. But accelerating innovation makes 
them more frequent - and* for those In the corporate 
trenches, sometimes more dramatic. 

The challenge for companies is to adapt - many don’t. 

In a famous example* US railroads failed to realize that 
their real business was something bigger - transportation. 
They got trashed by the introduction of long distance truck¬ 
ing. A more recent example: Microsoft’s (near) dismissal 
of a technological Hash in the pan called the Internet. 

Diseconomies of scale Too many cooks spoil the broth ,. 

In informalion work, bei tig big and musc)ebound often 
means rising production costs and falling productivity, 
Fred Brooks, now a professor at Lhe University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill, first documented the phenome¬ 
non when he analyzed the development disaster that 
became IBM’s breakthrough operating system. OS/560. 
Brooks, who was in charge of Lhe project, found that the 
more people he put on the project, the more it lagged 
behind schedule, WiLh hindsight he realized that trying to 
bring the newcomers up lo speed Look more time and 
effort than they could contribute to the project - not to 
mention exacerbating the eon fusion caused by ever- 
lengthening chains of communication. 

Bill Gales has read Brooks’s book. The Mythical Man- 
Month, That’s why Microsoft, for all the billions of dollars 
in its war chest* keeps its development teams smalt. 

Dis i ntermed iation Cutting out the middleman. 

As networks connect everybody to everybody else, they 
increase the opportunities for shortcuts. When you can 
connect straight from your desktop to the computer of 
your broker or bank* stockbrokers and bank tellers start 
to look like overpriced terminal devices. 

Disintermediation first gained momentum in financial 
markets when customers began forsaking savings banks 
for their stockbrokers’ money market accounts - denying 


banks the opportunity to make a nice return by investing 
the funds in money markets themselves. Now entire swaths 
of the economy are vulnerable: stockbrokers* real estate 
agents, anybody who picks tip a phone for a living. And 
maybe generic clothing stores* computer resellers, ami 
record shops, too - thanks in part to the cheap, conve¬ 
nient* and increasingly universal distribution networks 
otherwise known as FedEx and UPS. 

In practice, rhough, disintermediation more often means 
changing jobs* not eliminating them. And, in the process* 
it can create opportunities for new and different middle- 
men - look at online bookseller Amazon.com and stealth 
retailers like CUC International. As networks turn increas¬ 
ingly mass-market* everyone involved in sales is playing 
a duck-and-weave game of disintermediation and reinter¬ 
media lion. To the winner go the customer relationships. 

Distributed systems Cooperation by another name. 
Distributed systems originated in llie computer industry* 
where - to the surprise of many - collections of medium - 
powered computers sharing work often outperformed 
even high-powered monolithic mainframes. Like decen¬ 
tralization, distributed systems work by putting decision¬ 



making where the information is, shortening chains of 
command and speeding response. In doing so* they are 
particularly well suited to very large applications - the 
Internet, for instance, whose 91 million computers make 
it by far the largest distributed system ever created. 

Economies of time Faster is better 
Being first to market brings huge advantage in an inform¬ 
ation economy. By learning your way of doing things, 
customers make a mental investment in your product - a 
powerful hold in an otherwise moMk frit Li on-free world. 

More generally, markets based on weightless bits mov¬ 
ing at the speed of light tend lo reward quality rather than 
mere quantity. As physicist Freeman Dyson has observed* 
u Never sacrifice economies of time for economy of size." 
Which is why even Microsoft worries about cycle time. 

Farts II and UI o/Wired^ Encyclopedia of the New 
ICconotny will appear in Wired 6M4 and a.05. 


WIRED MARCH 1958 


IMAGE: NIGEL HOLMES 











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ELECTROSPHERE 


Cyberbeats 

Forty years ago, the literary maelstrom 

of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs 

paved the way for the digital revolution. 


By David Batstone 


A llen Ginsberg told death to wait in line. He had 
some unfinished business with the morality police. 
Poet, pop star, political activist, spiritual avatar, all 
crowded onto his resume. And here was Ginsberg, at 
age 70, tying prone on his bed in San Francisco’s Hotel 
Triton, delivering what would turn out to be his final 
extended interview. Within four months, the congestive 
heart failure Lhat had chronically ailed him would take 
his life. 

Ginsberg wheezed and coughed his way through a 
retrospective of the Beat movement that surged through 
the American literary 1 scene in the 1950s, Other Beats 
often dubbed him the great communicator of their ideal 
of cultural freedom, but he spoke with a humility and 
enthusiasm that would suggest lie was simply a fan. 

At Ihe slightest mention of censorship, however, Gins¬ 
berg’s demeanor changed dramatically. He elbowed his 
upper body erect off the hotel 
mattress and breathed lire: 

“The law infringes on my free 
market, yet it’s the very 1 free- 
market bullshit artists that are 
doing this. What hypocrites!” 

Ginsberg was never one to 
take restrictions on his free 
expression lying down. In 1957, 

US Customs Service agents 
impounded his London-pub¬ 
lished poetry collection Howl 
on charges of obscenity. The 
ensuing court battle catapulted 
the Beats off the pages of 
obscure literary 7 rags and into 
the national spotlight. 


An unrepentant Ginsberg maintained to the end that 
state censorship degrades democracy. “IFs all about mind 
and body control for the sake of power” he rasped, li is 
legs now dangling over the edge of Lhe bed. “And today 
the light continues over the Internet.” 

The Beats and the digerati? The art of communication 
sure brings together odd companions, Ginsberg’s link, 
however, surpasses poetic hyperbole. While the Beats’ 
writing method and brazen lifestyle were deemed down¬ 
right quirky in the 1950s, the collective aesthetic of Jack 
Kerouac, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Michael 
McClure, Ginsberg, and friends portends streams of 
consciousness that emerge with remarkable clarity in 
the digital age. 

11 all starts, and ends, “on the road” Dean Moriarty 
and Sal Paradise, the primary characters in Kerouac’s 
legendary novel, search for something they can believe 
in and, hell, all Lhe ecstasy and 
transcendence they can stand 
along lhe way. Kerouac places 
Dean and Sal into full contact 
with the unknown and unfa¬ 
miliar, and flashes of revela¬ 
tion appear to them from the 
most unlikely sources. They 
discover by trip’s end that the 
mystery of the open road lies 
not in any particular destina¬ 
tion, but the perennial drift 
toward connection. 

That message would fit com¬ 
fortably on the dust jacket of' 
Sherry r Tu ride’s latest who - a re- 
we-now treatise, Life on the 



From Burroughs's kaleidoscope of vistas” 
and Ginsberg's "many eyes" to Kerouac's 
"language sea," streams of consciousness 
now sweeping the planet started with the 
Beat Generation. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ 1 □ 


ORIGINAL IMAGES (FROM LEFT): CHRIS F E LV E ft/A RC K I V E PHOTOS; TIM HALE/HETWAJ ARCHIVE PHOTOS 









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Screen; Identity in the Age of the Internet. 
The MIT professor tracks personal identity 
in the digital age and concludes that we 
invent who we are as wc move in and out 
of social encounters and adapt to a variety 
of social roles. We build a sense of reality 
out of the associations we make. Turkic 
identifies the Net as w a significant social 
laboratory for experimenting with the con¬ 
structions ... of the self that characterize 
postmodern life.” 

Keraiac and Turkic write out of vastly 
different social contexts, of course. Kerouac 
was rebelling against a strongly imposed 
view of the seif. Astute cultural critics of 
die '50s depicted postwar America as a one- 
dimensional society run by “organization 
men” who produced mass culture For the 
consumption of “lonely crowds" Any vari¬ 
ance from the conformity was akin to trea¬ 
son. “What is good for GM is good for 
America" ran the slogan that dictated behav¬ 
ior ranging from die economic to the per¬ 
sonal. Kerouac and his peers challenged 
that stability with their provocative tales of 



self-discovery that openly violated sexual, 
racial, and cultural mores. 

In Turkic's postmodern world, many of 
the institutions that once bound people 
together - the bank on Main Street, a neigh¬ 
borhood church, a union hall - have now 
become objects of nostalgia. The places we 
meet others today, she writes, tend to he 
much more transitional, offering services 
and relationships that address small parts 
of our lifestyles. The relationships wc build 
in work, family, school, and neighborhood 
overlap only slightly. Postmodern individ¬ 
uals endlessly recycle through communi¬ 
ties to which fragments of their identities 
are bound. 

In Life an the Screen, Turkic relates the 
story of Gordon, a man who was raised 
in two homes after his parents divorced 
while he was still in grade school. He spent 
winters with his mother in Florida and 
summers with his father in California, and 
Gordon was deeply hurl Lhat his mother 
rented out his room whenever he went off 
to California. His sense of displacement 


continued after he went to college, only to 
drop out a year later upon realizing that he 
could succeed at computer programming 
without a formal education. Turtle demon¬ 
strates how Gordon's role-playing in several 
MUDs helped him find integrity and consis¬ 
tency in Lhe diverse “personae” he had been 
simultaneously raised to be. 

Likewise, Kerouac’s characters struggled 
to find their individuality within Lhe invented 
consensus of a mass culture. Hungering for 
fresh sources of information, they slipped 
into the worlds of others and began similar 
role-playing experimentation. Hobos and 
racial outcasts intrigued Kerouac, while 
Ginsberg gravity Led toward sexual outlaws 
and Burroughs befriended drug addicts and 
criminals. Raised in middle-class malaise, 
these writers desired to see a world that was 
set Tree from control and conformity. 

Inspired by the rawness of his encounters, 
Kerouac changed bis writing method to 
mirror the movement of time. Writing was 
dead, he argued, once it was made to bow 
before prescribed rules, narrow selectivity, 





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punctuation, and revision. He wanted his 
writing to “bop* as spontaneously as the 
improvisational saxophone scat of Charlie 
Parker or the action painting of Jackson 
Pollock, Exhausting the forms of language 
would give him, he hoped, new insights 
into how the world might be reassembled, 
He likened his writing method to “swim¬ 
ming in a language sea * an unintended 
yet colorful description of hypertext for 
a digital generation. 

Starting with On the Road , Kerouac 
recorded whatever impressions or memo¬ 
ries spilled out of his mind, deliberately 
repressing his obsessions for finding the 
“right” word or idea. His motto: first 
thought, best thought. He quickly ran 
inlo an obstacle, however. His how was 
interrupted each time he had to feed a 
new sheet of paper into the typewriter 
To remain uninterrupted, he typed on long 
rolls of teletype paper. Over the course of 
only three days in 1953, he wrote The Sub¬ 
terraneans, a barely fictionalized account 
of one of his love affairs. 


Kerouac felt that he had stumbled on 
“the only possible literature of the future* 
and foresaw a day when the means of com¬ 
munication would facilitate not only sponta¬ 
neous prose, but a more immediate exchange 
of ideas as well. While his insights are un¬ 
cannily prescient of the arrival of email, 
at the time Kerouac could only imagine its 
advent in science fiction terms, naming it 
“space age prose ? “It may be they won’t be 
reading anything else but spontaneous writ- 
mg when they do get out there, the science 
of language to fit the science of movement,” 
Kerouac wrote. 


To help Ginsberg and Burroughs appreci¬ 
ate his transformation as a writer, Kerouac 
prepared a laundry list of attitudes and 
techniques he considered essential for spon¬ 
taneous prose (see sidebar, page 122). One 


pithy phrase captures the spirit of his list: 
“Something you feel will find its own form ” 
Kerouac’s “essentials* read tike a survival 
manual for the denizens of electronically 
mediated virtual communities. Cyberspace 
pundit Allucquere Rosaline (Sandy) Stone, 
in fact, suggests that success in online 
encounters requires the ability to perform 
“lucid dreaming in an awake state.” Stone, 
who directs the University of Texas Advanced 
Communication Technologies Laboratory, 
thinks that people who participate in MUDs 
and other simulated environments gain 
interactive ways of processing information 


that enhance perception in physical environ¬ 
ments as well. Their imaginations do not 
stop firing once they leave their avatars. 
Like the traveler who comes home from an 
immersion in a foreign culture, the virtual 


Kerouac's "essentials" for spontaneous prose 
read like a survival manual for the denizens 
of electronically mediated virtual communities. 


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expatriate comes back to the real world with 
new perspectives on what once was not only 
too familiar, but also seemed incapable of 
change* 

Stone’s belief that MUDs permit the growth 
of more fluid and dynamic personae resem¬ 
bles the “language of movement” Kerouac 
once imagined. “The soul or some improba¬ 
ble avatar routinely travels free of the body, 
and a certain amount of energy is routinely 
expressed in managing the result of its trav¬ 
els ” comments Stone in. her hook The War 
of Desire and Technology at the Close of the 
Mechanical Age . 

Tiie Beats, of course, turned to fiction 
and poetry as their tools for creativity* Writ¬ 
ing gave them license tu blur lines and make 
associations that bent Lhe rules of publicly 
ordered social life* Connections that made 
no sense (or were not allowed to exist) in 
the real world took on a life of their own 
in imaginary environments. Even when 
their subject matter was autobiographical, 
which it often was, the Beats usually danced 
behind the masks of their characters and 
tropes, Kerouac, for example, detailed in 
each of his novels the names and places of 
his daily encounters, yet freely fictionalized 



brazenly claimed Lhat its words could have 
worked just as easily in any order. His 
description of the ideal presentation of the 
book has more the feel of a Web page than 
hard copy: “The hook spill off the page in all 
directions, kaleidoscope of vistas, medley 
of tunes and street noises, larts and riot 
yipes and the slamming steel shutters of 
commerce” 

The Beats’ collective literary philosophy 
evoked a furious backlash from many public 
intellectuals. Nonnan Podhoretz delivered 
one of the more biting critiques in his influ¬ 
ential Partisan Review essay, “The Know- 
Nothing Bohemians” In effect, Podhoretz’s 
diatribe resembles the kind of suspicion 
that the print media today frequently direct 
toward the Internet, Early last year, for 
example. The New York Times cautioned 
its readers: “Partly owing to tree-speech 
protection, the Internet lacks a quality- 
control mechanism to separate fact from 
hyperbole or from outright falsehood...” 
Podhoretz, for his part, warned lhat the 
Beats 5 faith in human passion and celebra¬ 
tion of “incoherence” was sure lo lead to 
m o ra t b ren kd own, p a rti c n I a r 1 y a m o n g 
America's you lit. 


In 1959, Burroughs revealed the dark rationale 

of one-way telepathic control: 

"Power groups of the world frantically 
cut lines of connection." 


these slices of reality whenever it served the 
movement of the story* 

While other Beats followed Kerouac into 
a spontaneous prose, Burroughs developed 
a montage style of writing that he believed 
more faithfully mirrored the process of 
human perception than did representational 
writing. Utilizing a crude cut-and-paste 
method, he did not so much write a book as 
design it. His stated goal w r as to im pose nei¬ 
ther plot nor continuity, but splice together 
as many images as possible simultaneously. 

Burroughs was frustrated by the inherent 
limitations of communicating information 
solely through a two-dimensional sheet of 
paper. He astonished readers with his pref¬ 
ace to his 1959 novel Naked Lunch , which 


Podhoretz missed the subtlety of spon¬ 
taneous prose. buL be rightly sensed the 
Beats' general suspicion of intellectualism. 
While the industrial world touted empirical 
reason as the sole path to the truths that 
really matter, the Beats placed their trust 
in the dawn of a new age that would value 
intuition and imagination as equally crit¬ 
ical to the production of knowledge. They 
believed that reason alone was incapable 
of keeping pace with a world of rapidly 
changing truths. 

One thought logically following another 
and centrally organized fit a mass consumer, 
a mass media, and a mass political struc¬ 
ture. The Beats insisted that the new con¬ 
sciousness be discontinuous. They reveled 


in chaos, where patterns emerge but last 
no longer than the period for which they 
are relevant or meaningful. If nothing is 
fixed or permanent, creativity can run 
amok. Keeping up with the flow of real ity, 
then, demands constant awareness. Philip 
Whalen, then Beat, writer and now Bud¬ 
dhist monk, succinctly articulated the spirit 
of the Beats in his poem “Sourdough Moun¬ 
tain Lookout”: 

What we see of the world is the mind’s 

Invention and the mind 

Th o ugh st a i ned by it , becom i ng 

Rivers, sun t mute-dung, JUes - 

Can shift instantly 

A dirty bird in a square time 

These “material-symbolic-psychic” con¬ 
nect imis lie at the heart of Donna Haraway s 
contemporary theories of technoscienrific 
culture. Haraway, a professor in the History 
of Consciousness program at the University 
of California at Santa Cruz, shares the Beats' 
passion to affect the language and concepts 
upon which a worldwide web of relation¬ 
ships depend. Her ultimate interest is to 
pursue “which connections matter, why, and 
for whom?” 

Haraway finds it ironic that tech noscience 
has abrogated to itself the right to define 
truths that are fixed and universal. The early 
purveyors of the scientific revolution, to the 
contrary, sought to make knowledge contin¬ 
gent oil experimentation so as to avert the 
terrors of holy civil wars and arbitrary mon¬ 
arch s, But somewhere along the way facts 
and self-evidence became the tools for a 
m o d e r n fo rm o f m en ta 1 tyra n n y. 

Haraway believes hypertext is a useful 
metaphor for describing what really hap¬ 
pens in the production of knowledge. 1 n 
her latest hook, Modest_Witness@Second 
_M illennia/mFerna leMa n ©_Meets_ On co - 
Mouse™, she spotlights the Mosaic browser 
-as well as its offspring and competitors - 
as a primary medium of global information 
dispersion during the 1990s. She empha¬ 
sizes lhat the knowledge Mosaic represents 
is vital for the distribution of valuable goods 
like freedom, justice, well-being, wealth, 
skill, and knowledge* “‘Computers 5 cause 
nothing” Haraway admits. “But the human 
and nonhuman hybrids troped by the figure 
of the information machine remake worlds.” 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 & 8 


□ 2D 






WE’VE HOUSEBROKEN 
TECHNOLOGY FOR YOU. 



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QUALCOMM has tamed unruly technology and, 
at the same time, taught it some manners. 
With our digital phones, you choose the ways 
you connect with others through voice, coffer ID, 
paging, voice mail and data options. So you 
are in charge of when and how you’ll be in 
touch. When you are, you’ll be supported by 
QUALCOMM’S advanced CDMA digital technology. 
It provides the highest quality voice transmission 
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cloning and fraud. Wireless technology will make 
your life easier, now that we’ve domesticated it. 
Everything else in the arena is, frankly, quite 
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or 1-619-651-4029 (outside the USA). 



0 UALCO/WW 

DIGITAL PHONES 












































Mosaiclike browsers provide Hie stage for¬ 
ma king hypertext and hypergraphic connec¬ 
tions* The actual results, however, depend 
on daily negotiations* Pathways through the 
Web therefore are not predetermined, but 
are filled with agendas, conflicts, and partial 
testimonies to diverse experiences* Haraway 
suggests that despite our mystification of tech¬ 
nology, the most Important factors in the 
information game - regardless of whether it 
pertains to science or politics or both - are 
the “enrollments” (who shows up) and the 
“hybrids” they produce in their interaction* 

The Buddhist notion of “emptiness” 
which appears regularly in Beat writing, 
is in many respects parallel to Kara way's 
idea of hypertext. The ability' to simulate 
and interact with the moment was in their 
mind more important than calculation and 
repetition of lhal reality, "Emptiness Implies 
a common space, yet not a common mind 
with archetypes and messages running hack 
and forth ” ex pi a i n ed Gins berg* “Just as th e 
Internet represents a collective body of infor¬ 
mation, creativity is distributed throughout 
the network” 

Asked whether John Perry Barlow's depic¬ 
tion of the Net as “hardwiring the collective 
consciousness” (see “A Globe, Clothing Itself 
with a Brain ” Wired 3.06, page 108) might 
resonate, Ginsberg deferred, “I I sounds like 
Barlow may be trapped in some monotheis¬ 
tic hierarchization of consciousness: one 
central repository, almost like a god, but in 
this case more like a noosphere” Ginsberg 
then immediately rattled off a phrase from 
a favorite poem, “There are no hierarchies, 
only many eyes to he looked out of” 

Given their historical context, the Beats 
were ever wary of efforts to collectivize cre¬ 
ativity, be the motivation utopian or Fascist. 
Many of the Beats found solace in Buddhism 
for the very reason that ii offered channels 
for linking the solitary mind to a deeper 
consciousness of the universe, without caus¬ 
ing one to lose oneself in groupthink. 

Limits on communications in 1950s 
America reduced politics, reason, and ethics 
to a narrow tedmoseientific project called 
the Cold War. The web of secrecy ran from 
the bedroom to the top of the government, 
tightly regulating the kinds of intercourse that 
were permitted in the private and public 



spheres of society* In this claustrophobic 
environment, the writings of the Beats 
begged for candor about sexuality, politics, 
drugs, and money. 

Burroughs exposed the dark side of this 
state regimentation in Naked Lunch , his 
drug-soaked parody of social control. The 
“Senders” are a scientific-industrial elite 
who gather at a National Electronic Confer¬ 
ence in order to map out the future of the 
social order* They pass a legal mandate 
requiring every surgeon to install a minia¬ 
ture transmitter into the neural pathways 
of the citizenry, so that subjects will send 
messages of their internal feelings and 
thoughts back to the State. But the Senders 
decide that a citizen must never receive 
a message, lest he “recharge himself by con¬ 
tact” Burroughs later reveals the Senders' 
rationale for one-way telepathic control: 
“Power groups of the world frantically cul 
l ines of connection.” 

Ginsberg was convinced lhat the struggle 
for the free exchange of information was 
Far from over in the digital age, “The key to 
hierarchical power is the maintenance of 
secrecy,” he rasped in a weak voice. 

His remarks extended far beyond censor¬ 
ship to address the very exercise of political 
power in the age of communications. After 
four decades as a public artist, he had 
reached the conclusion that the health of 
a democratic society required open and 
accessible information. “Why should we 
have classified documents?” he wondered 
aloud. “I’m happy for the government to 
know everything about me as tong as 1 have 
access to everything lhai is going on in their 
lives and among their political alliances.” 

Ginsberg claimed that such candor lay 
at the very heart of what h meant to be a 
“Beat.” While tons of ink have been spilled 
trying to define the significance of the name, 
he suggested that Kerouac got it best way 
back in On the Road: “Everything belongs 
to me because I am poor” mum 


David Batstone (batstone@glnbaIeafe.com) 
is a professor of social ethics at the Uni¬ 
versity of San Francisco. He is host and 
executive producer o/BusStop RadioNet 
Productions, broadcast weekly on National 
Public Radio * 


Kerouac's Essentials 
of Spontaneous Prose 

1. Write on, cant change or go back, involuntary, 
on revised, spontaneous, subconscious, pure 

2* Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild type 
written pages, for your own joy 

3. Submissive to everything, open, listening 

4. Be in love with your life every detail of it 

5. Something that you feel will find its own form 

6* Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind 

7; Blow as deep as you want to blow 

8* Write what you want bottomless from bottom 
of the mind 

9* The unspeakable visions of the individual 

10. No time for poetry but exactly what it is 

11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest 

12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object 
before you 

13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical 
inhibition 

14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time 

15* Telling the true story of the world in interior 
monolog 

16. Work from the pithy middle eye out, from 
the jewel center of interest swimming in 
language sea 

17 * Acre pt 1 oss forever 

18* Believe in the holy contour of life 

19. Write in recollection and amazement of yourself 

20. Profound struggle with pencil to sketch the 
flow that already exists intact in mind 

21. Don't think of words when you stop but to 
see picture better 

22* No fear or shame in the dignity of your 
experience, language, and knowledge 

23. Write for the world to read and see your 
exact pictures 

24* In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman 
Loneliness 

25. Composing wild, undisciplined pure, coming 
in from under, crazier the better 

26. You're a Genius alt the time 

27. Writer-Director of Earthly Movies produced in 
Heaven, different forms of the same Holy Gold 


WIRED MARCH 1598 


02H 








Introducing AT&T WorldNet® 

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Service 

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You've heard the buzz about IP networking and the buzzwords: selective access, ft means 
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share it with. 

Using IP networking technology, AT&T Wo rid Net Virtual Private Network Service allows 
you to create extranets and intranets on demand. To give employees, as well as customers 
and suppliers, access to your network - without giving everyone the run of the place. 

It's the best of all virtual worlds, because it’s flexible enough to accommodate the different 
needs of everyone who uses your network. Meanwhile, you get the business-class networking 
you'd expect from AT&T And the dependability of the AT&T backbone supporting every 
aspect of your network. If that's the level of security you want, just get in touch with us. 

Want to hear more? Call I 800 231-4153, or visit www.att.com/worfdnet 


t 1 s all within your reach. 

















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Online Synergy 

N ot to be confused with 
Dmetics, L Ron Hub¬ 
bard's occultish work that 
spawned Scientology, Syner¬ 
getics is the opposite of that 
dlsinfo stream. The magnum 
opus of the late ft. Buckmin¬ 
ster Fuller* it is nothing short 
of an explorer's guide to the 
workings of our universe. 

Synergetics is a thorough 
investigation into both physi¬ 
cal and nonphysical reality. lt J s 
easily one of the most excep¬ 
tional books of this century. 

However, Synergetics is now 
long out of print. Fuller s estate 



A Fuller comeback, 

recently agreed to put both 
volumes online, where virtual 
communities have grown. It is 
interpreted and explored; Kirby 
timer's thriving Synergetics-L 
mailing list is a prime example. 

Fuller's Synergetics may not 
be taught in schools anytime 
soon, but the amorphous Net 
is bringing his vital llfework to 
the world. - Michael Stutz 

Synergetics: Explorations in 
the Geometry of Thinking, by 
R, Buckminster Fuller; free, 
Macmillan Publishing Com 
pany: on the Web at www 
semech. com/public/rwgray 
/synergetics/synergetics, h tmi. 


Age of Interpretation 



G et ahold of Manuel Castells’s three-volume work. The Information 
Age - a must-read with its more than 1,200 pages of fact-packed, 
lucid prose. Castells explores the social significance of information 
technology and examines the remapping of global geography in the 
information age according to what he cafls “the space of flows* - not 
location in space, not Lhe change of location, but a higher derivative 
“location” of value based on the volume of traffic. Ye shall know them 
by their email volume and their FedEx bills. 

Castells is the intellectual heir to Hegel, Academics will be suspi¬ 
cious of him for his comprehensive reach. He’s read everything! But 
ihese works, as he says, are not about books but about the world as 
we are needing to reinterpret it. While volume one covers the com¬ 
munications technologies that are pulling us, globally, together, vol¬ 
ume two focuses on the forces that are pulling us apart: the identity 




Street Cred 

125 

Just Quits Beta 




Best 

138 

Deductible Junkets 

no 

Idees Fortes 

142 


What puzzles are posed by our transition to informationalfsm? 

politics of feminists, environmentalists, anti ethnic “nationalists” of 
various stripes. Volume three explores those who arc disenfranchised 
by digital illiteracy - “the black holes of informational capitalism ” 

Turning Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach oil its head (“The phi¬ 
losophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, 
however, is to change it” said Marx), Castells concludes his magnum 
opus: “In the 20th century, philosophers have been trying to change the 
world. In the 21st century, it is time for them to interpret it differently.” 

Perhaps you’re at peace with an information society that privileges 
the quick over the tired. But after this read, you may long for a new 
edition of The Federalist Papers , one that addresses the questions of 
justice in a way that lakes account of our leaving the agricultural and 
industrial eras to inhabit an information age where delivering good 
bits doesn't always add up to producing good, - Jay Ogilvy 

The Information Age: Economy Society and Culture , by Manuel Castells: each volume 
US$69.95. Blackwell Publishers: (800) 216 2522, on the Web at www.blackwellpub.com/, 


H20 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


























Video Effects 


Back in Ye How 

I n the winter of 1989, when 

II Fox first aired The Simpsons 
Christmas Special, I started 
recording the shows, taking 
care to cut out the commer¬ 
cials. Now, eight years later, 

i have more than 36 tapes 
of Simpsons episodes. 
Unfortunately, all my work 
has recently become moot. 

Fox Home Entertainment has 
released stx early Simpsons 
episodes on video. Available 
individually or as a boxed set 
of three, each of The Best of the 
Simpsons tapes contains a pair 
of shows from the first year, as 
well as an original short from 
The Tracey Oilman Show , 



Homer at His best. 

While you can see the show 
every day, thanks to reruns, 
the versions being shown in 
syndication have a couple 
minutes dipped out for more 
commercials. Not so with these 
videos;all the jokes are here. 

With any tuck, there'll be 
more of this series .There’s still 
some great episodes worth 
preserving. Like the one where 
Bart cheats on an IQ test, or 
the one in which Sideshow 
Bob comes back to get his 
revenge on Bart,or ♦ ♦♦ 

- Paul Seme! 

The Best of the Simpsons: 
US$9.98 each, 524.98 box 
set. Fox Home Entertain^ 
ment+1 (310)369 3900. 


f be constantly reported improvements to cyber arcades - all those 
blinking lights and ever more realistic virtual worlds - may pro¬ 
vide a thrill for those of a certain age, but where’s a thinking adult to 
find the deeper yet still awe-inspiring uses of new media? Cheek the 
art world. Artist Bill Viola’s breathtaking 25-year retrospective is a 
high tech Iniihouse for adults. It’s a darkened, dazzling labyrinth of 
15 room-sized video installations that pulsate with large-screen pro¬ 
jections, slowly spinning mirrors, and brief thunderous sounds. 

The electrical pyrotechnics wouldn’t do much without an artistic 
intention, and, thankfully, Viola is as much a master of his medium 
as he is a supreme content provider. During the course of his consis¬ 
tently interesting career, the Southern California-based artist has 
explored the juicy realm of mortality and dreams - in mind-blowing 
ways. Using surprising configurations of video and sound, Viola does 
something amazing: lie penetrates lhe barriers between objectivity 
and subjectivity. In his 1988 piece The Sleep of Reason, for example, 
he evokes a bedroom in which the sights and sounds of nightmares 



Dynamic high tech content for life outside the video arcade, 

briefly, and violently, take over actual space. 

Time is also of the essence. In a number of works, Viola captures 
feelings of loss, longing, and the fluidity of the moment. In the 1987 
piece Passage, a 26-minute videotape of a child’s birthday party is 
enlarged to wall scale in a small room and plays out over seven hours. 
It may sound deadly dull, but in this artist’s masterful hands, the scene 
becomes a haunting, looming memory of a long-lost event. 

It’s also in the realm of time that the exhibition stretches the enter¬ 
tainment dollar. These durational pieces could lake days to see tn their 
entirety (though abbreviated viewing provides powerful results), and 
a concurrent, rather extensive program of Viola’s single-channel video¬ 
tapes extends the possibilities even further. But of course, quantity 
isn’t everything. Viola offers plenty of material and presents it seam¬ 
lessly, and his images are so compelling they seem to etch themselves 
into your mind. Just like those kids hanging out in the cyber arcade, 
you’ll have to drag yourself away. - Glen Hdfand 

' Bill Viola": through May 10 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; touring 
internationally.Whitney Museum:+ 1 (212) 570 3600. 


Intel Insider 


eading Inside Intel after Andy Grove's Only the 
Paranoid Survive (see Wired 4.1 2, page 272) is 
like living through an episode of Sliders. Both 
hooks are ostensibly about the same world, but 
there are important differences. 

Grove's world is one in which hard-working 
engineers slave away to constantly improve their 
product while management safeguards their 
greatest achievements from unscrupulous inter¬ 
lopers. Inside Intel portrays the same nerdy engi¬ 
neers slaving away, but the benevolent managers 
have turned into robber barons, ready to grind 
down an honest competitor or an employee. 

AuthorTim Jackson details how a stopgap prod¬ 
uct line - the x86 series of processors - went on 
to dominate the computer industry, setting the 
standard and imposing unnecessary limitations. 



There's more to Grove's world than meets the eye. 

I had assumed that Intel's success was 80 per¬ 
cent engineering skill and 20 percent market 
manipulation. I'm now inclined to revise the latter 
number upwards, l expected to learn the nitty- 
gritty of computer engineering. I've never under¬ 
stood what goes on inside a chip, but always 
thought I ought to. Inside Intel does a credible 
job explaining all that, but also details fraud, 
manipulative and discriminatory employment 
practices, plagiarism, and entrapment. That my 
computer has Intel inside has as much to do with 
these factors as with clock speeds and fab yields. 

Most industry leaders have their share of dirty 
laundryJackson does an admirable job of airing 
Intel's in a fascinating yarn ,-Jeffrey Mann 


Inside Intel: Andy Grave and the Rise of the World's Most Power 
ful Chip Company l by Tim Jackson: US$24.95. Dutton: +1 (212) 
366 2000, 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


020 















Worlds Away 

he slow pace and still-by-still graphics of Riven: 

The Sequel to Myst may try the patience of 
those who like their games punctuated by gun¬ 
fire* So think of Riven as cinema. Think of it as a 
book. Because although it's not for everyone. 
Cyan's offering blows away hyperviolent, visually 
repetitive games. 

Riven is gamemaking at its most audacious. 
Visual and audio effects aside, the effort put into 
making the experience intellectually immersive 
is staggering. Because both the concept of Riven 
and its technical execution are so inspired, devel¬ 
opers at Cyan seem to assume that you will play 
until you go blind. And if you hope to finish, you 
just might have to. The programmers have created 
a civilization, and then dropped you, the unwit¬ 
ting player, into it. You can never be sure whether 
a building is a temple, a control room, or a simple 
shelter, because everything has larger cultural 
significance, in one room, bronze beetles on the 
wall snap open to reveal Byza mine-style religious 



Riven's visual grace tempts players to further explorations. 

scenes: a book falling from the sky; a messiah fig¬ 
ure casting his followers into an abyss. Acclimating 
to Riven is like learning to read - you must learn 
to synthesize the scattered symbolism of the 
game into a useful visual alphabet. 

And even if you were to grow tired of the pon¬ 
derous anthropology of the game, temptation is 
enough to win the war against your impatience. 
An enormous gold-domed observatory lies on 
the other side of a locked bronze gate, overhead 
walkways are just a few feet out of reach, and as 
you stand on one cliff top, unexplored buildings 
across the valley beckon through the haze, With= 
its even pace, tireless perfectionism,and graceful 
flourishes, Riven heralds the aesthetic conver¬ 
gence of multimedia, cinema, and literature. It's 
a blockbuster and a page-turner rolled into one, 
but because there's no running time or page 
numbers. I'm still not sure how far I am from 
finishing. - Jacob Ward 

Riven: The Sequel to Myst: U5S5G, Red Orb Entertainment; 

+1 (415) 382 4770. on the Web at www.riven.com /. 


Private Survey 

If remarkably comprehensive and provocative collection of essays, 
r Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape offers a penetrating 
and informative analysis of the interactions and tensions between 
information technology and privacy. 

Edited by Philip Agre and Marc Rotenberg, this book provides a 
framework for developing information systems. The authors featured 
here are international experts in the technical, economic, and politi¬ 
cal aspects of privacy, Agre ? s introductory material lends consider¬ 
able coherence to the book. Other essays include: 

• Viktor Mayer-Schdnberger discusses four generations of data 
protection in Europe; beginning with the early laws of the 1970s, 
he moves on to a greater awareness of individual rights, and then to 
a recognition of the right to informational self-determination, and 
finally to some of today’s rather holistic approaches. This vital chap¬ 
ter shows Europe’s longtime awareness of privacy risks. 

* Robert Gellman muses on the viability and effectiveness of our 
privacy laws: “The problem is less a shortcoming of existing legal 
devices and more a failure of interest, incentive, and enforcement. 

If the will for better privacy rules develops, the law can provide a 



way to accomplish the objectives.” 

* In a very provocative chapter, Simon G. Davies reflects on tire 
public interest and observes that privacy has been transformed from 
a right into a commodity. He concludes that “the loss of traditional 
privacy activism at a macro political level has imperiled an impor¬ 
tant facet of civil rights.” 

■ David J. Phillips’s “Cryptography, Secrets, and the Structuring 
of Trust" deals with a topic undergoing great flux, and thus is not so 
current as the other chapters. Nevertheless, it presents a fresh per¬ 
spective. Discussion of the Clipper chip is historically interesting. 

■ David H. Flaherty, who is Information and Privacy Commissioner 
for British Columbia, considers the extent to which surveillance can 
be controlled, even in surveillance-prone societies. 

* Rohan Samarajiva’s “Interactivity as though Privacy Mattered” 
concludes with this ominous warning: “Once coercive surveillance 
becomes routinized and taken for granted, the prospects for privacy 
and trust-conducive outcomes are likely to be dim” 

- Peter G. Neumann 

Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape, edited by Philip E, Agre and Marc Rotenberg; 
US$25. The MIT Press: +1 (617) 625 8569, 

Q2Q 


Power Mike 

elephone headsets are 

great if you have to type 
while you're on the phone. 

And computer headsets are a 
must if you want to use voice- 
recognition software with 
your desktop machine. And 
stereo headsets are great for 
listening to CDs... having 
three headsets on your desk 
is a recipe for tang fed cords. 

VXI has two answers, both 
of which solve two-thirds of 
the headset problem. Com¬ 
bine the Parrot 3 headset with 
the company's Parrot Switch 
telephone amplifier, and you've 
got a headset that can work 



Mighty headsets. 


with either your telephone or 
your computer, I use mine 
every day, 

VXI also makes the Parrot 2 
stereo headset, which works 
equally well for voice dictation 
and listening to a CD through 
your computer. Unfortunately 
the Parrot 2 doesn't work with 
the Parrot Switch - that's why 
each headset solves only part 
of the problem. Rut if you have 
a computer that can-do tele¬ 
phony, you solve all three prob¬ 
lems,- Srmscjn Garfinke! 

Parrot 3 headset: US$76; 
Parrot Switch telephone 
amplifier: $116, VXI Corp.; 
(800) 742 8588, 


WIRED MARCH 1998 





















Art as Science 


Explosive Import 

U eferring to Takeshi Kitano 
If as Japan's leading actor- 
director is like referring to 
Mount Fuji as a rather steep 
incline, Kitano is an entertain¬ 
ment phenomenon whose 
versatility has earned him cult 
status throughout Asia and 
Europe, though curiously none 
of his films have been released 
in the US-until now. 

Fireworks (Ham-BIj is an 
appropriate title for this explo¬ 
sive drama of an embittered 
excop who stages a bank heist 
to compensate for his tack of 
responsibility to a crippled 
former colleague and his dying 
wife, In his belated repentance, 
he earns the wrath of yakuza 



Kitano in the spotlight 

loan sharks and the disbelief 
of his former police colleagues. 

Key to the film's brilliance 
is the enigmatic Kitano, who 
wrote and directed the film 
while starring as Beat Takeshi. 
As a filmmaker, Kitano creates 
long, Zeniike passages pleas¬ 
antly void of dialog, then 
savages the audience with 
unexpected hursts of artful 
violence. As an actor, he recalls 
the golden age oF films, when 
stars were truly stellar crea¬ 
tures. - Phil Haii 

Fireworks (Hano-81): opens in 
Los Angeles and New York 
In March and smaller venues 
by April. Milestone Film: [800) 
603 1104, 


f your right and lefl brains are constantly at war, have them make 
peace by delighting in On the Surface of Things, an art book for 
science nerds and gadget heads - and, simultaneously, a science book 
for artists and aesthetes. 

This colorful volume features ravishing photographs shot by Felice 
Frankel, a Guggenheim fellow, artist-in-residence, and research sci¬ 
entist at MIT. Frankel artfully renders scientific breakthroughs - from 
DNA analysis to holographs - as mysterious, brightly hued images. Her 
work conveys the profundity of scientific inventions and observations 
in visual lyrics that intrigue the eye - and mind. 

Her main goal as an artist-researcher is to find the aesthetic com¬ 
ponent of scientists' work to add to their documentation, without 
changing the science. In the visually stunning 0/; the Surface of 
Things, Frankel communicates an emotional response to scientific 
discovery that cannot he fully captured in prose, by translating the 
depth of these findings into a language we all understand: beauty. 
Even those with no technical training can relate with raw enthusi¬ 
asm to silicon, etched by light or microelectrodcs, for example, as 



Eye candy for the scientific at heart. 

Frankel portrays them in images as alluring as the most gorgeous 
abstract canvases by painters Richard Diebcnkorn or Frank Stella. 

The words accompanying Frankel’s photographs, by Harvard chem¬ 
istry professor George M. Whitesides, arc equally moving. A para¬ 
graph published alongside an absolutely stunning magnified image 
of otherwise unglamorous ferrofluid reads: “Pity the gryphon, the 
mermaid, the silkic, the chimera: creatures assembled of incompat¬ 
ible parts, with uncertain allegiances and Troubled identities. When 
nature calls, which nature is it? When instinct beckons, approach or 
flee? A ferrofluid is a gryphon in the world of materials: part liquid, 
part magnet...” 

Take it from me, someone who schizophrenically makes a Living 
by both writing about and teaching college kids the virtues of art and 
science: On the Surface of Things presents one of the year's more 
intriguing concepts for ail art book (or is it a science hook?). It's a 
rare yin and yang concoction that satisfies both sides of the brain. 

- Heena Jana 

On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science , by Felice Frankel and George M. 
Whitesides: US$35, Chronicle Books: +1 {415] S3? 3730, on the Web at www.chronbooks.com/. 


Software Pirates 

he skewed swashbuckling adventure Ship - 
wreckers! is one of those pure computer 
games that makes no attempt to simulate reality 
or offer a virtual version of anything. In the tradi¬ 
tion of desktop time-killers like Power Pete and 
the original Castle Wolfenstein, it simply inserts 
you in a series of wit-racking mazes filled with 
enemies,obstacles, and power-ups and asks you 
to find the exits. 

The rules are old, but the props and scenery are 
new. As a rogue pirate challenging the salty Cap¬ 
tain Blowfleet, you circumvent sea monsters and 
dodge the droppings of brightly colored parrots. 
Instead of saving the universe, you are encouraged 
to pillage mercilessly. The goal is to find map frag¬ 
ments contained in floating bottles. 

The game's appeal is in its detailed cuteness. 

A low tech arsenal of cannonballs, roman candles, 



Good ol J fashioned gaming on the high seas. 

powder kegs, and roaring flame-throwers and 
lightning bolts - my favorites - wages mayhem 
in each of the five environments. Some worlds 
are cluttered with icebergs, others are plagued 
with tropical storms that cloud visibility. 

If your ship is set on fire, tiny howling sailors in 
red and white striped shirts will hop overboard 
until the flames are extinguished. You can recoup 
some of these losses by scooping them up before 
they drown or become shark bait. Evidently, sail¬ 
ors aren't too picky about where they do their 
swearing - you can also gain health by torching 
Blowfleet's boats and scooping up its crews. It's 
all peg legs, planks, and parrots here, a seafaring 
escape from the usual videogame busywork of 
exterminating radioactive mutants, deadly 
viruses, and corporate conspiracies. - Ian Christe 

Shipwreckersl for PC or PlayStation: US$54.99. Fsygnosis: 

+1 [650) 287 6500 r on the Web at www.psygnosis.com /. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ 20 








If you abuse your credit cards, get used to this answer. Chances are it's the one 
you'll hear when applying for car loans, apartments or anything else that requires a 
check of your credit history. For more information on credit visit www.creditalk.com. 

A message from MasterCard. 


C 1997 MasterCaid UHernalKniai Inoorp&rai&d 







Razing Arizona 

t's just another day in Para¬ 
dise- Paradise, Arizona, that 
is - and all the usual players 
a re he re: wi rid o w-shop pers, 
children,gas-station atten¬ 
dants. And of course there's 
you, the individual known only 
as the postal dude - the mis¬ 
understood 3-D sprite with the 
trenchcoat,the perfectly calm 
voice, and the assault rifle. 

Welcome to Postal, a hybrid 
Mac/PC CD-ROM tribute to 
life in 1990s America, As the 
inscrutable postal dude, you 
begin the game outside your 
front door, which you can't 
open; there's a police car in 
front of your house and lots of 



No sense ringing twice, 

men with guns in the street. 

If the game rewarded intro¬ 
spection, you might be able to 
determine the psychological 
particulars that brought you 
here, hut it doesn't, and your 
best bet is to start shooting. 

Your disturbed tittle postal 
dude utters a constant stream 
of witticisms amid the blood¬ 
sheds h, did that hurt?* he 
inquires after shotgunning a 
cop at point-blank range. 
Sinister, eh? Weil, consider this 
chilling, observation :AiMn ail, 
it's a pretty damned fun game. 
- Chris Hudak 

Postal. US$49.95. Ripcord 
Games:+1 [408)653 1897. 


All Natural and Complex 


agazines focusing rm the natural world are plentiful these days, 
hut the quarterly Terra Nava towers above its competition, ll 
refuses to define its mission in terms of a politically correct slant on 
environmental activism, or on a rhapsodic, New Age romanticism. 
Editor David Rothenberg and his ever-stimulating roster of writers 
and photographers take the position that writing clearly about nature 
requires a tough-minded commitment to notions of complexity and 
contradiction. 

Issues arc loosely organized around themes like Borderline and 
Music from Nature. Liberated, for the most part. From political or spiri¬ 
tual agendas, Terra Nova’s writers offer multiple perspectives on how 
nature’s dark and light sides have been interpreted cross-cult urally. 
Borderline looks tinblinkingly at the false dualisms that often cloud 
ecological debates. Animal life is not treated as something purer than 
human, while pollution is viewed as a complicated swirl of linked 
pluses and minuses. 

The music issue includes a CD, bringing to life essays about music’s 
roots in natural soundscapes. Of particular note arc excerpts from a 
book by Japanese composer'fom Takemitsu. Ills Zenlike appreciation 




Term 

i'NOVA 


I /n-Ur fifjji/ 




Terra Nova: fitting into nature's constraints. 

of direct experience of music in nature, undiluted by academic theory, 
is summarized by the statement, “When sounds are possessed by ideas 
instead of having their own identity, music suffers.” The mix of con¬ 
tributors puts most music magazines to shame. In what other publi¬ 
cation can you find Beethoven and Hildegard of Bingen, Brian Eno 
and the BaRenzele Pygmies? 

Terra Nova delights in presenting artists who relish working in a 
time when virtuality and artificial life arc developing, who see new 
technologies less as threats and more as opportunities for complex 
artistic engagements intertwining naturalness/artificiality. No image 
from the journal is more indicative of its vision than that of a piano 
dropped from a mountain by an avant-garde composer. Don’t worry. 
This is purely fiction, excerpted from Thomas Wharton’s novel Ice¬ 
fields . Rut Wharton offers an appropriately paradoxical, complex 
conclusion to this performance art: “Ivory keys are found later in the 
summer by hikers ... Often they are mistaken for the teeth of mam¬ 
moths” - Norman Weinstein 

Terra Nova: US$34 yearly MIT Press Journals;+1 (617) 253 2889, fax +1 (617) 577 1545, email 
journak-orders@mit edu . 


Media Odyssey 

edia evolution, like biological evolution, is 
no simple progression from prehistoric to 
futuristic, but a patchwork of fits and starts - it's 
mosaic. Paul Levinson takes this literally, kicking 
off his ode to transformative technology, The Soft 
Edge, with Moses' march down Mount Sinai. 

Monotheism, it seems, failed to take hold in 
ancient Egypt because the dominant medium - 
hieroglyphics - could be mastered only by a rare¬ 
fied priesthood. The Hebrew lawgiver, on the 
other hand, was blessed with a concise system 
of writing conceived to facilitate commerce.The 
rest, as they say, is history: the phonetic alphabet 
begat increasingly distributed information - and 
social transformation - by means of the printing 
press, the wordprocessor,and the Internet. 

Remarkable in both scholarly sweep and rhe¬ 
torical lyricism, this "natural history" spells out 
how remedial technologies, like the VCR, have 
outpaced their ancestors' limitations, gradually 



The epk journey's hero - in formation. 

extending human faculties across space and time. 

Yet what first promises to be the digital Origin 
of Species turns out to be a sequel to The Odyssey: 
media's progress is presented as an epic journey 
toward freedom, unseating censors along the way. 

Ironically, The Soft Edge largely ignores the 
mischievous observation by its mentor, Marshall 
McLuhatr, that the medium is the mass age. Lev¬ 
inson's archetypar'open"Web is a pull-centric, 
public-minded Internet. The online world, mean¬ 
while, has morphed from global village into a city 
of nets fueled by competition and consolidation. 

Of course, paradigm shifts have unleashed cre¬ 
ative turbulence since at least the time of Noah. 
And The Soft Edge's bit-driven cosmology has a 
deus ex machina that saves it from the informa¬ 
tion deluge - an arc of accelerating growth 
steered by an invisible hand, - Wiliiam 0 . Goggins 

The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the information 
Revolution, by Paul Levinson: US$25. Routledge: +T (212) 216 
7800. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ 3m 











offers all the creature comforts of your finer sport-utilities, like soft 
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something these competitors don’t: the added luxury of two sunroofs. To 
tcstndrive this outstanding All-Wheel Drive vehicle, stop by your nearest 
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SUBARU© 


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By Jesse Freund 


A 

Aim 



i4i 


Mutant Falre 

From the French company Ubf 
Soft comes a charming little 
game called TonkTmtie. Help 
the kooky purple monster 
Ed retrieve a can of mutation- 
inducing agents that has acci¬ 
dentally fallen into the grasp 
of the evil Grogh the Hellish, 
Enhanced by the Pentium II 
processor, this is one of the 
first DVD-ROW games on the 
market, in all, the new title 
features both a clever story line 
and richly textured graphics* 

Release: ApriUJbi Soft Enter 
tainment+1 £415) 547 4000. 



Return of 
the Dragon 

Blackstone Group senior 
adviser Daniel Bursters latest 
book about an Asian economy, 
Big Dragon , focuses on the 
threat challenge, and oppor¬ 
tunity posed by China. Among 
other controversial predictions, 
the author believes thatln 
the 2030s, China will emerge 
as the biggest single national 
economy in the world/ 

Release: March. Simon & 
Schuster:+1 £212) 698 7277. 


Double Barrel 

The promise of Widespread ISDN is finally here 
- although it arrives in the guise of plain old 
telephone service. Diamond Multimedia Sys¬ 
tems" new Shotgun software ties together the 
datastreams of two analog phone lines, so these 
bonded 56K modems are free to realize down¬ 
load speeds similar to ISDN's 115 Kbps* 

A bonded 56K modem won't come cheap: 
Diamond Multimedia's offering, the SupraSonk 
II, which is actually a single board holding two 
modems, costs around US$200, and ISPs will 
certainly charge for the second phone connec¬ 
tion. But the cost-benefit ratio of a bonded 
modem does compare favorably with ISDN* 



Plus, Shotgun allows you to release the second 
phone line, so you can choose to receive calls 
while the data connection is live* 


The bigger question: When will the 56K stan¬ 
dards schism be resolved? Diamond Multimedia 
supports Rockwell's K56 flex technology, and 
3Com is developing a similar product for U*S. 
Robotics's x2 format. Both sides have vowed to 
reconcile their differences this year, but it'll be 
difficult to convince consumers to plunk down 
big dollars while the smoke is still clearing*Then 
again, if the closest alternative is ISDN, people 
frustrated with spotty service will likely line up 
to get aboard the bonded-modem bandwagon* 

Release: March. Diamond Multimedia Systems :+1 (408) 
325 7000. 


Very Dumb Terminal 

What do you get when you combine Windows 
NT, Windows CE, and a LAN? Aside from a whole 
lotta Microsoft, Network Computing Devices 
thinks that its latest product,a thin-client code- 
named Thumper, answers that question with 
a cheap and simple way for businesses to give 
many workers access to Windows applications 
and company wide resources. 

Thumper falls under the thin-client umbrella 
because it reigns in local computing power - the 
device offers a modicum of processing power, no 
local storage, and the simple Windows CE operat¬ 
ing system - but the product ties into Microsoft's 
new Hydra networking software, which allows 
people to tap applications and computational 



brawn residing on shared Windows NT 4*0 ser¬ 
vers. While some pundits have questioned Bill 
Gates's commitment to network computing, 
Hydra signals an impressive initiative - in part 
because it gives an entire intranet a Microsoft- 
controlled interface. 

For its part, NCD is quick to emphasize the 
advantages of a Thumper-NT, client-server archi¬ 
tecture: the hardware is inexpensive, people have 
a familiarity with Windows, and it's easy to man¬ 
age applications in a centralized environment. 
From a business perspective, the product's main 
advantage over the big-iron mainframe terminals 
of yesteryear is a decidedly cheaper, somewhat 
prettier, and entirely Microsoft display for, well, 
the network itself. 

Release: Before summer. NCD: + 1 (415) 694 0650. 


Schizo ISDN 

For alt of you with ISDN con¬ 
nections, Ericssons new Home 
Internet Solution employs a 
watered-down DSL technol¬ 
ogy to transmit voice and 
data over the same line at the 
same time. When the phone 
rings, this mode ml Eke termi¬ 
nal reduces your networking 
speed to 70 Kbps - down 
from ISDN's usual 115 Kbps 
- and lets you yap away to 
your hearts content. 

Release: March. Ericsson: 

■H (972) 583 8383. 



Monumental 

Misadventure 

The new game Douglas Adams 
Starship Titanic, conceived by 
the author of The Hitchhiker's 
Guide to the Galaxy , tells the 
story of an in ter stellar liner 
that abruptly crashes into your 
living room. Board the wreck¬ 
age and talk to the trauma¬ 
tized robots and a crazed 
parrot (voice talent provided 
by Monty Python's Terry Jones) 
to determine what caused the 
fatal accident, 

Release: March. Simon & 
Schuster Interactive:+1 £212) 
698 7000. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


D30 














Because a single SparQ™ 
cartridge gives you 


same room as 


THE REVOLUTION 


If you’re considering buying a Zip™ drive 
stop and consider buying the new one gig 
removable cartridge drive from SyQuest. 


And 5porO m is now ovoiiobio ot: 

CompUSA. Computer City. Best Buy. Micro Center, J&R Computer World , Fry's. 
Datavision, Bek-Tek, RCS Computer Experience. Eggheod, Creative Computer, 
Future Shop and other authorized 5yOuest resetters or call 1.300.245. Z27B. 

*St99 gets you a gig and the SparQ drive. Additional gigs are $33 each when yau buy a three pack. 

Other wise they're only $39 each. Comparison is based upon a 10-pack of Zip'™ disks al $99 SRP. © 1997 
SyQuest Technology,, fnc. Syquest is □ registered trademark. The SyQuest logo and SparQ™ are 
trademarks oF SyQuest Technology, Inc Zip™ is o trademark of Iomega Corporation. 

All other names ore trademarks of their respective companies. 



wwwisy quest, cam 

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Signal to Noise 

he end of the decade 
I is nearly upon us.What 
better time to evaluate '90s 
technoculture? Evidently, the 
moment is also ripe for taking 
the piss out of those who nur¬ 
tured the way new Zeitgeist. 
Author Carla Sinclair is no 
stranger to the scene; her 
latest book, Signal to Noise, 
caricatures the San Francisco 
slackers and scenesters, zea¬ 
lots and zi n esters who smoked 
DMT with Monde 2000 freaks 
and climbed the Wired ladder 
Though the tybetcultural 
parody will most amuse those 
who've experienced it first¬ 
hand, the unwired masses can 



Tales of the city, 

still enjoy this fast-paced read. 
Sinclair pairs Jim Knight a 
stressed-out editor, with 
twentysomething M Astura. 
The two meet while searching 
for Darren Cooper among 
drug-using subcultures. 

If you're looking for the 
next Ulysses, better go else- 
wher e. Signal to Noise trades 
in the immediacy of online 
prose. But along with its sillier 
trappings, Sinclair's novel 
offers a distinctive perspective 
on the foibles of the wired life 
- Many Lee Brown 

Signal to Noise , by Carla 
Sinclair: US$22.50. Harper- 
SanFrancisco: on the Web at 
www.harpercoIlm.comA 


README 

ON THE BOOKSHELVES OF THE DIGERATI 


IDIT HAREL 

founder and CEO of MoMo- 
Media (www.mamamedia 
.com/), and one of the first 
graduates of the MIT Medio 
iab f where she studied 
technology and learning. 
Joystick Nation: How 
Videogames Ate Our 
Quarters, Won Our Hearts, 
and Rewired Our Minds , 
by J.C. Hen /Hera offers a 
good overview of the history 
of videogames and of the 
generation that grew up 
playing them. Videogames 
are wonderful spaces where 
children learn on their own, 
driven by their own curios¬ 
ity. At MaMaMedia we want 
to create an educational 
environment that is more 
like a videogame than a 
school worksheet." 


Picasso and Braque: 
Pioneering Cubism, by 
William Rubin. 'This is my 
secret:! love coffee-table 
books. Most are not intellec¬ 
tually satisfying, but Picasso 
and Braque , published by 
the Museum of Modem Art 
in New York, is fascinating. 
Over a period of years, the 
two artists worked together, 
and you can see how they 
would take a common 
theme and then move in 
different creative directions. 
Together they launched a 
movements style, a com¬ 
munity. Yet each needed his 
own canvas. When you think 
about the computer as a 
canvas, you realize that five 
children cannot share a 
single computer, as many 
educators suggest. Each 
child has a different creative 
style/ 


ALIZA SHERMAN 

president of the media com¬ 
pany Cybergrrl and author of 
Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide 
to the World Wide Web. 

The Angel of Darkness, 
by Caleb Carr "This sequel 
to The Alienist is set in New 
York City in the 1800s, In 
every era, people say how 
terrible things a re. Reading 
history, I find the same prob¬ 
lems have always existed. 

The Angel of Darkness is a 
murder mystery about a 
serial killer and a motley 
crew of detectives. The 
victims are children, and the 
suspected killer is a woman. 
The story delves into the role 
of women, the role of the 
mother. And the themes that 
emerge a re the same ones 
we hear today in reaction to 


Susan Smith and other crim¬ 
inal women. Society is still 
unabie to believe in female 
serial killers. It goes against 
our notion of femininity." 
Release 2.0: A Design for 
Living in the Digital Age, 
by Esther Dyson ."This book 
discusses how we as a soci¬ 
ety should integrate tech¬ 
nology into our lives. I had 
thought of Dyson as a policy 
advocate and was expecting 
a dry dissertation on XYZ. But 
the style was conversational 
and filled with personality. In 
the chapters on community, 

1 found a warmth that I 
wasn't expecting. For me, the 
book said that everything I ve 
been doing with Webgrrls is 
viable, that community is just 
as important as individual 
privacy, that community is 
the cornerstone - it's the 
heart of the matter/ 


ELLEN ULLMAN 

a software engineer and con¬ 
sultant, and author of Close 
to the Machine:Technophilia 
and Its Discontents. 

Fermat's Last Theorem: 
Unlocking the Secret of 
an Ancient Mathematical 
Problem, by Amir Aczel 
"This little paperback 
describes the history of 
solving Fermat's Last Theo¬ 
rem. J'm reading it for a 
sense of how you tel] a 
highly technical story in a 
way that an educated reader 
could understand. It follows 
the unraveling of a mathe¬ 
matical puzzle, a mystery 
solved over centuries by 
hundreds of scholars. People 
think of programming as a 
solitary endeavor, but, like 
mathematics, it's really a 


collaboration of thinkers 
over years." 

The Reader: A Novel, by 
Bernhard Schlink. "This is 
a gem of a novel. The writing 
is exquisite, the descriptions 
of human interaction are so 
vivid and so particular that 
they resonate, In the first 
part of the novel, the narra¬ 
tor, ill with tuberculosis, has 
an affair with an older 
woman. We see her through 
his eyes, again with very 
particular details. Then he 
runs Into her years later. 

The story turns on who she 
has become, on her role in 
German history. He's horrified 
by the past relationship, yet 
still finds himself attracted 
to her.The leap from exquis¬ 
ite personal story to the 
sweeping historical novel is 
so smooth. Its a wonderful 
book." 



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Backyard Baseball 

o many sports programs 

’ are so serious. Real players, 
real stats,real rules.! get 
review copies of these things 
all the time, and I foist them 
off on local obsessive sports 
nerds. But lam not giving 
away my CD-ROM of Backyard 
Baseball. 

In Backyard Baseball ,you 
coach a team of dopey- 
loo king kids. When you pick 
teams, definitely don't miss 
Pablo Sanchez, He doesn't 
speak English, but he's the 
best player in the league. I 
usually put him in left field. 
Pete Wheeler isn't too bright 
[Tm gonna hit a touchdown;' 



A team of misfits. 


he says as he steps up to the 
plate), but he sure can hit.Kie- 
sha Phillips is a must - count 
on her to hit it out of the park. 
If you pick Sidney Webber, pick 
her twin sister, Ashley, too - 
they play better together. 

Backyard Baseball is for kids 
5 to 10, but most players on 
my real-life team (21 and up) 
love it. Sports nerds may pre¬ 
fer more realistic ball games, 
but the rest of us may find 
ourselves addicted to leading 
little bands of junior misfits to 
victory. -Amy Bmckman 

Backyard Baseball: US$29.95. 
Hu mongo us Entertainment: 
+1 (425) 485 9258, 


WIRED MARCH 199 


Notes from Underground 

ed up with mass media that’s hopelessly out of sync with your 

worldview? Think you can do better? Do-it-yourself publishing 
beckons, but where do you start? A guide of some permanence - say, 
a book - is called for. Yet thanks in part to the Internet, information 
changes so rapidly that much of it may be out of date by the time you 
see it in print. 

Wired contributing writer Gareth Branwyn set himself a fearsome 
task when he sat down to write Jamming the Media % his “citizen’s 
guide to reclaiming the tools of communication ” Branwyn gamely 
resolved to compile - in print, mind you - nothing less than a per¬ 
manent, accurate, and reliable resource for all producers of alterna¬ 
tive media (zines, cable-access TV, pirate radio, music, films, video). 
You find yourself wanting terribly for him to succeed and - given the 
constraints - so he does. 

With Jamming, Branwyn does an admirable job of marshalling the 
rag-tag resources of the far-flung DIY community into something 
resembling coherence, and a spot-check finds his sources impressively 
up to date. And he promises that any revisions will be posted on the 
Web, Yet reading the book, you’re left with one of the worst symptoms 



DIY publishing made accessible. 

of information anxiety: is the data in front of you still current, or 
should you check it against what’s online? The printed word never 
seemed so fragile. 

Branwyn can he naggingly gung-ho when he pays court to his 
cronies at bOING bOING and his neighbors, who crop up with alarm¬ 
ing regularity. However, his lists of alternative efforts do manage to 
prove there's no accounting for taste. Given the vagaries of DIY pub¬ 
lishing, the question is not whether it’s too transgressive or subversive 
or whatever, but whether it’s any good - and Branwyn, to his credit, 
frequently finds fault. He apologizes for the quality of cable-access 
TV, buries disc-based multimedia (perhaps prematurely), and says 
that far too much of pirate radio is “basically devoid of content ” On 
the topic du jour, Branwyn writes matter-of-factly - “We’re losing 
what’s really special about the Internet: people communicating with 
each other.” A blurb on Jamming's jacket declares, “There’s never 
been a better time to have something to say” The question is, do you 
have something worth saying? - Ken Coupland 

Jamming the Media: A Citizens Guide - Reclaiming the Tools of Communication, by Gareth Bran¬ 
wyn. US$18.95. Chronicle Books: +1 (415) 537 3730. on the Web at wwwchronbooks.com/. 


Contributors 

Tiffany Lee Brown (magdalen@magdalen.com) writes 
for a veritable smorgasbord of digital and pop culture 
magazines from her world headquarters in Portiand r 
Oregon. She is the editor of Sigum (www.slm-net.com 
/ signum.htm } and assistant editor of the Fringe Ware 
Review (wwwJringeware.com/). 

Amy B ruck man (bruck@cc.gatech.edu) is an assistant 
professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia 
Institute of Technology where she does research on 
educational software and virtual communities. 

Ian Christe composes music for modern dance as 
himself, digital death metal as Dark Ncerd, and Donkey 
KongAn spired drum and bass as DJ Bazillion. 

Ken Co upland (kcouptand@aol.comJ a contributing 
editor at Graphis magazine, writes about art, architecture, 
photography and interior and graphic design, with a 
focus on the digital revolution. 

Simson Garfmkel ( simsong@mit.edu ) is HotWired's 
technology columnist. 

Phil Hall ts an okapi at the Bronx Zoo, 

Glen Helfaud writes about art, culture, and technology 
for various publications, including NewMedia, The Advo¬ 
cate t LA WeeklyAhe Son Francisco Examiner, and Some 
Weird Sin, 

Chris Hudak is a technology 

columnist, game critic, and judge of the Robot Wars in 
San Francisco. He has seen The Color of Money 14 times. 

Reena Jana contributes to The New York Times Magazine t 
Flash Art, and Asian Art News. She needs constant visual 
stimulation. 

Jeffrey Mann (mannj@ibm.net) lives in Amsterdam and 
Saint-Agnan-en-Yercors, France, He follows electronic 
commerce for the Meta Group, 

Peter G. Neumann moderates the Risks Forum news- 
group (comp-risks) and is the author of Computer-Related 
Risks. 

Jay Ogilvy is a cofounder and vice president of Global 
Business Network. Prior to that he spent seven years at 
SRI, and before that 12 years teaching philosophy mostly 
at Yale, 

Paul Semel (beerhound@aol.com) Is the music and tech¬ 
nology editor of Bikini and writes about music, books, and 
games for such magazines as Ray Gun r Aif$tar i and Mixmag. 

Michael Stutz (stutz@dsl.org) is a writer.The text of his 
first novel, Sunciipse, has been released as freeware, 

Jacob Ward is managing editor of Axcess magazine and 
lives in San Francisco. 

Norman Weinstein (nweinste@micfon.net} is a poet and 
critic who writes about the arts and technology for The 
Christian Science Monitor , MIT's Technology Review , and 
The Boston Phoenix. 


□ 30 














spiraling 



Wandering 


YOU OPEN YOUR EYES 


TO UNDERSTAND 


i^r<£AMlQK£k 


ijSiifcwofkB Corporation ’BafeaSuti G 4 m &5 Vonhjie No i Ol 997 Arrwri ,in 
Iftf tftci^lfcirk of AmofScTtn Saltworks Ck>rporgttofi. Sanitarium is developed by 
n 33 k a regi&fer&d ftadem&rk of Microsoft Corporation The ratings icon is a 
>zm Association. AIJ rights rosen/ed. 


ANl ARIUM 








Great stuff - tested and approved in our top-secret labs. 


By Chris ftubin 




First Gass: 

RS 8 

Using 900-MHz technology it first per¬ 
fected in wireless mikes, Sennheiser has 
created a highly sensitive instrument 
with noise-reduction compression, allow¬ 
ing near full-frequency delivery up to 
250 feet away. Combine that with great¬ 
sounding phones and a comfortable fit, 
and you've got the best on the market. 


RS 8: US$369.95. Sennheiser Electronic Corp: 
+1 (860) 434 9190. 

Business Gass: 

MDR-RF940RK 

With its battery- or AC-powered transmit¬ 
ter, this versatile 900-MHz set from Sony 
will work outdoors and in the home. The 
headphones self-adjust for a solid fit and 
automatically turn themselves on when 
you slip them over your head. They'll do 
practically everything but choose the 
music for you. 

MDR-RF94GRK: US$149.99. Sony: +1 (941) 
768 7669, on the Web at www.sony.com/. 

(- 

Coach: 

W2005X Wireless Stereo 
Headphone System 
Recoton's 900’MHz setup comes with its 
own walkman^style headphones, but the 
unit also allows you to convert any pair 
from corded to cordless. Just plug in your 
favorite ear goggles, dip the battery pack 
onto your clothes, and you're no longer 
tethered to the home stereo. 


W200SX Wireless Stereo Headphone System: 

US$129.99. Recoton:+1 (407) 333 8900. 

L J 


Tequila 

First Class: 

Paradiso Anejo 
This blend of five-year-old tequilas was 
assembled with the help of cognac maker 
Alain Royer, who imported French oak 
barrels for added smoothness. With a 
complex bouquet and long finish, Par¬ 
adiso narrowly beats out Herradura's 
US$275-a-bottle Selection Suprema, 

Paradiso Ahejo: US$95, ElTesoro de Don 
Felipe, imported by Robert Denton & Co: 

+1 [248) 299 0600. 


Business Gass: 

Herradura Silver 
Herradura is the Sara Lee of the tequila 
business - nobody doesn't like 'em. The 
distillery makes only estate-bottled, 100 
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reposado tequila doesn't have a lot of 
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Deductibw unkets 

Meetings of the minds. By Bob Parks 


April 27-29 
Internet & Electronic 
Commerce 
New York 

Most analysts stop at pre¬ 
dicting that Net commerce 
will reach US$6 to $8 billion 
by century's turn, but the 
GartnerGroup is actually 
helping us get there. Speak¬ 
ers at this Gartner-sponsored 
strategy session - among 
them Jim McCann of 1 -800- 
Flowers, Michael Dell of Dell 
Computer, and Halsey Minor 
of CNET - promise to get 
down to brass tacks, with 
real-life examples of online 
commerce. Case studies 
focus on nine industries, 
from retail to insurance to 
entertainment 

Tete a T£te Potential 
Geek Factor 
Idea Takeaway 
Star Power 

Registrar on: US $1,3 95, 
Contact:+1 (203) 256 4700, on 
the Web at www.iec-eitpo.com/. 


★ it 
it 
it it 
it it it 


The Current Roundup 

{see Wired 6.02) 

March 14-17SXSW 
Interactive '98; Austin, Texas. 

March 22-25 PC Forum, 
Tucson, Arizona. 

March 25-27 Ethicomp98: 
Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 

March 25-27 Marketing 
on the Internet: The 1998 
Conference; Phoenix 

March 29-April 2 Infocom J 98: 
San Francisco. 



April 27-May 2 
Tucson III 
Tucson, Arizona 

Also known under the title 
Toward a Science of Con¬ 
sciousness, Tucson 111 brings 
together hundreds of top 
thinkers from fields includ¬ 
ing philosophy, computer 
science, and neuroscience to 
discuss such questions as,"Is 
it possible to build conscious¬ 
ness into a machine?" and 
"Would a conscious machine 
exist as a souped-up PC, or 
as some new kind of quan¬ 
tum computer?" For the 
safety of all brains involved, 
this event happens only 
every two years. Says ring¬ 
leader Stuart Hameroff, a 
professor of anesthesiology 
and psychology at the Uni¬ 
versity of Arizona/'There are 
more focused conferences, 
but nobody's been able to 
pull off a giant circus tent 
like this." 

Tete a Tete Potential 
Geek Factor 
Idea Takeaway 
Star Power 

Registration: US$325, Contact: 
+1 (520)621 7724, fax+1 (520) 
621 3269, on the Web at www 
consciousnessarUona. edit/ 


May 4-8 
CGDC '98 

Long Beach, California 

"There's an exposition floor and sessions, 
but I go just to find out what everyone's 
up to," says one game designer about the 
annual Computer Game Developers'Con¬ 
ference, the biggest of its kind. The show's 
session descriptions can be confusing, our 
industry insider notes, and its tutorials 
sometimes result in no more than a few 
software tweaks, but who cares? The real 
action is in the bars and hotels of sunny 
Long Beach, where thousands of show 
attendees engage in multiplayer facetime. 
Hot-tub topics this year should include the 
new mass-marketed 3-D acceleration cards 
and the Public PC/Open Arcade initiatives, 
bids to make the development platform 
for arcade games the same as for the PC. 
Enjoy fraternizing, but don't miss the key¬ 
note presentations from Ultima creator 
Richard Garritt and Civilization builder 
Sid Meier Between them, these two have 
reinvented gaming a few times, so they 
can certainly help you imagine your next 
blockbuster title. 


Tete a Tete Potential 

★ ★★ 

Geek Factor 

★ ★★ 

Idea Takeaway 

jL. 

Star Power 

★ ★★ 


Registration: US$795 through March 27, $1,095 after. 
Contact: +1 (415) 905 2388, email cgdc@mfi.com. on 
the Web at wwwxgdc.com/ 


May 410 

Africa Telecom 98 
Midrand, South Africa 

Because 33 of the world's 
48 least-developed countries 
are in Africa, any new tech¬ 
nology that's introduced 
there is bound to be state of 
the art In other words, the 
continent Is a prime candi¬ 
date for telecom Investment 
and high tech leapfrogging. 
(Why build circuits when 
you can send packets?) The 
International Telecommuni¬ 
cation Union has organized 
this meeting of ambassa¬ 
dors, delegates, investors, 
and techies to discuss the 
new digital and wireless 
prospects under the theme 
"African Renaissance: Spec¬ 
trum of OpportunityNel¬ 
son Mandela himself invited 
the event to South Africa. 

Tete a Tete Potential 
Geek Factor 
Idea Takeaway 
Star Power 

Registration: CHF2000 
(approximately US$1,400). 
Contact:+41 (22) 730 6161, 
fax+41 [22) 730 6444, email 
africa-lelecom u.mt, on the 
Web at www.itu.mt/tefecom/ 


May 10 12 
ACM Policy’98 
Washington, DC 
Call it CDA preventions 
this new annual conference, 
eminent geeks bring policy¬ 
makers up to speed on tech¬ 
nology issues. EFF board 
member Dave Farber leads 
a panel on universal Net 
access, and UC Berkeley 
professor and Mac Arthur 
Fellow Pamela Sam nelson 
runs a program on intellec¬ 
tual property. Other topics 
include Net commerce and 
online learning. Because this 
gathering also functions as 
the annual meeting for the 
sponsoring Association for 
Computing Machinery, many 
of the organization's tech¬ 
nologists will be in town to 
learn how to inform public 
policy firsthand Says Farber 
of his panel, "This one ain't 
gonna be quiet - people 
don't rally against universal 
access, but they do ask how 
the devil you fund it." 


Tete a Tete Potential 

kk 

Geek Factor 

it 

Idea Takeaway 

kkk 

Star Power 

kirk 


Registration: US$300 through 
April 1, $350 after. Contact: 
on the Web at www.acm.org 
/usacm/even ts/poficy98/. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ 40 




























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s Fortes 

Instant cultural literacy. 


8y David Pescovitz 


Ecological Design 

Creative integration of envi¬ 
ronment and technology. 
While its original intent as 
a sustainable "green" design 
philosophy was to move 
away from the metaphor of 
the machine, the term is now 
being used to describe the 
incorporation of machines 
into our daily lives. Silicon 
Graphics chief scientist Bill 
Buxton,for instance,applies 
it to ubiquitous computing. 

"In this case, ecological 
design is the design of tech¬ 
nology that takes into account 
both social and physical con¬ 
text of where and how it will 


Generative Art 

Process by which a computer creates unique works from fixed para¬ 
meters defined by the artist. The result can range from an engaging 
screensaver to a jazz solo to a lush virtual world. 

The term generative art is most likely derived from "generative gram¬ 
mar/a linguistic theory Noam Chomsky first proposed in his book 
Syntactic Structures (1965) to refer to deep-seated rules that describe 
any language. Steven Holtzman, author of Digital Mosaics (1997), traces 
the art form to the dawn of the information age in the 1960s, when 
musicians like Gottfried Michael Koenig and Iannis Xenakis pioneered 
computer composition* De facto generative art spokesperson Brian Eno 
didn't get turned on to the process until many years later* 

"Generative music enjoys some of the benefits of both its ancestors 
[live music and recorded musk)," Eno wrote in A Year with Swollen 
Appendices (1996)/Like live music it is always different* Like recorded 
music it is free of time-and-place limitations - you can hear it when and 
where you want*! really think it is possible that our grandchildren will 
look at us in wonder and say:'you mean you used to listen to exactly the 

same thing over and over again? J " 

The visual application of generative 
art is newer, however. In the mid-1970s 
British abstract painter Harold Cohen 
plugged in his palette and designed 
AARON, a computer artist that pro¬ 
duces original work* Since then, gen¬ 
erative techniques have been used to 
grow artificial life based on genetic 
algorithms and massively complex vir¬ 
tual worlds that take infinitely longer 
than seven days to create by hand. But 
whatever the output, there is always 
a human behind the high tech curtain. 

"The computer is actually generat¬ 
ing the art in partnership with the 
artist/programmer, who defines the 
fields of possibilities/says Hoitzman, 
who has been experimenting with 
generative music for more than 20 
years/People live with this romantic notion that an artist gets struck 
with a thunderbolt of inspiration and runs to the piano or canvas and 
expresses an idea.The reality is that art has a format underpinning, and 
computers are a perfect tool because they're perfect for manipulating 
formal structure/ 


be used," explains Buxton, 
who also cites the influence 
of ecological psychology, the 
study of how humans inter¬ 
act with their environment. 
"The technology is invisible 
and the service is delivered 
in the right form at the right 
time for the right person/ 
Picture a public toilet with 
hands-free flushing so you 
don't have to touch anything* 
Or a car phone that automat¬ 
ically turns down the stereo 
when there's an incoming call. 
Perhaps this subdiscipline 
should be rebranded rech- 
ological design. ■ ^ 


Meta 

Modifier describing the presenta¬ 
tion of representation* From the 
Greek, meaning "among/"after/ 
or "beyond," as in Metaphysics, 
the title of the text that followed 
Aristotle's Physics. 

In its strictest sense, the prefix 
serves as a context provider - 
tacked onto a field of study, meta 
designates a new discipline that 
critiques the original one*"State¬ 
ments made in a 'meta' study are 
statements obouf a science or other 
subject area, rather than statements 
within the area," explains innova¬ 
tive educator Herbert Kohl in From 
Archetype to Zeitgeist (1992)* Meta¬ 
language, for example, is a language 
used to describe another language. 

A fitting meta metaphor might 
be nesting dolls,surrounding and 
embedding information with even 
more information.The truth, after 
ail, is more likely to be in there than 
out there. Any student of the Bard 
can tell you that the key to grokking 
the drama of Shakespeare's Hamlet 
lies in the play-within-a-play* Like¬ 
wise, Mystery Science Theater 3000 
relies on the self-conscious giggles 
that overtake us while we watch the 
show's hosts deconstructing the 
movie on their screen. Thus meta at 
least adds "novelty" if nothing exact¬ 
ly new. Of course, the term applies 
to participants, not just observers: 
note San Francisco's drag-queen 
Faux Beauty Pageant, where women 
dress as men dressed as women. 

Ultimately, meta's meaning 
turns on the efficiency of inserting 
"brackets." Like folders within fold¬ 
ers on your computer desktop, 
going meta insulates your brain 
from the full scope of the subject, 
placing it at the safe intellectual 
distance required for rational orga¬ 
nization. b m k 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


□ 40 








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She knew she’d have to explain it, 

probably even apologize For it, sooner or later, but 
Dr. Amanda Koteas didn't think she’d be doing it now. 
Nevertheless, after weeks of rumors and stolen memos 
and lab reports turning up in the tabloid press and on 
TV, Koteas, head of the University of Pennsylvania's 
Department of Molecular and Cellular Engineering and 
the school's institute for 1 Inman Gene Therapy, decided 
to tell the full story. At a hastily pul led-together press 
conference last Friday, she announced to the world 
that not only is human cloning possible, but that she 
and her team had already done it - two years earlier, 
using an updated version of the techniques scientists 
at the Kostin Institute used to create the sheep Dolly, 
the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, in 1997, 

The result of Koteas and company's bold experiment 
was a healthy 8-pound girl named Katy, born in secret 
to Virginia and Christopher Hytner at the institute on 
December 5,1999. 

Why did Koteas wait so long to go public with the 
story? During our interview 7 , it is clear that she remains 
moved by the child's birth, but ambivalent about dis¬ 
cussing the cloning. “This was a medical procedure 
with a name and a child’s face” she says. “We w r ere 

Rickard Kadrey, the author of several novels, writes 
about technology and culture from San Francisco. 


hoping to keep the circumstances of Katy’s birth out 
of ihe pub lie eye for a few more years at least. She's 
a normal kid and deserves a normal childhood” 

It's unlikely anything about Katy Hytner's life is 
going to be normal for years to come. Not only has 
the press descended oil Pacifica, a coastal community 
20 minutes south of San Francisco, but so have reli¬ 
gious groups, film and book agents, and conspiracy 
buffs. While Pacifica is used to tourists, the current 
mix of curiosity-seekers is not sitting well with local 
residents. Says Thomas Winkler, owner of the Good 
Morning America coffee shop, “ft's like Lhere was an 
explosion at the idiot factory and all the debris landed 
here” Punching receipts into his cash register, Winkler 
reflects for a moment before adding, “They should all 
jusl leave that little girl alone” 

The Hytners are not the only ones overwhelmed by 
the publicity surrounding this story Koteas and her 
team are still trying to absorb die enormity of public 
reaction. “It’s much more surreal than we ever imag¬ 
ined;' she says. “Frightening, too ” 

Koteas and her colleagues have reason to be fright¬ 
ened. Several members of the cloning team have 
received death threats, while others, such as Adam 
Walken, whose studies into the genetics of aging 
encouraged the team that human cloning w r as pos¬ 
sible, have been inundated with offers for movies 




WIRED MARCH 1990 


040 


IMAGE: JEFF &RICE 








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“If we win the Nobel Prize, I wonder 


and talk show appearances. Tn the corridors of the 
University of Pennsylvania, the words “Nobel Prize* 
and -‘jail time” are men Lioned with equal frequency. 
School president James Gsterberg has issued a terse 
press statement: “The university in no way condones 
the secret and unauthorized experiments conducted 
by doctors Amanda Koteas, Adam Walken, Eric Morten- 
sen, Moriah Stoltz, and Albert Gomez. A full internal 
investigation is under way to determine whether any 
law r s have been violated.” 

“We did the work using university facilities, so yes, 
technically, university funds were used for the work 
admits Koteas. “And some of those funds were tied 
to government grants The use of such funding, she 
acknowledges, defied the moratorium on human- 
cloning research encouraged by then-President Clin¬ 
ton in 1097. At her home in suburban Philadelphia, 
Koteas looks out the window. “We weren't conducting 
research for the sake of research. We were applying 
established scientific knowledge to a specific problem, 
i stand by that” She laughs anxiously. “If we win the 
Nobel Prize, I wonder if they'll let me keep mine in 
my cell?” 

All this w T eek, while the members of the Pennsyl¬ 
vania cloning team pondered their collective futures, 
Katy Hytner, an outwardly ordinary 2-year-old who 
had only last week been playing with Legos and 
Sesame Street dolls at the Oceanview Children’s Cen¬ 
ter in Pacifica, was not yet aw r are of the controversy 
surrounding her birth. 

Her “conception” began more than 

two years ago in the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit at the 
Institute for Human Gene Therapy The university’s 
cutting-edge combination of advanced computer 
analysis, genetic screening, and gene therapy had 
caused a stir in 1998, both as a scientific break¬ 
through and as a controversial moneymaking enter¬ 
prise for the university (see “Buying the Future: 
Perfect Kids for Cold Cash ” Wired page 450). 

Combining proprietary chemical and genetic tests 
for diseases and congenital abnormalities, all collated 
by the new “expert system” software developed at 
Carnegie Mellon University, the institute had devel¬ 
oped a system that, according to its own publicity 
materials, “virtually guarantees not only a successful 


labor and delivery, but the healthy child every family 
dreams about.” 

Virginia and Christopher Hytner had talked about 
having children for year's. “But we wanted to wait 
until the time was right,” says Virginia, a part-time 
real estate agent. Her husband, a design engineer at 
Silicon Graphics in Mountain View, California, adds, 
“With our careers on track and our lives stable, the 
only things holding us back were health questions.” 

The Hytners, like a lot of the boomer generation, 
had waited until their late 30s to have children. While 
both were outwardly healthy, Virginia Hytner had 
some concerns about the healLh of any child she might 
bear. “Even though I don’t have diabetes, my mother 
and an aunt do,” she explains via phone. “I wanted to 
know about the possibility of passing that to my child. 

1 also know that there are other problems that a child 
can have when coining from a diabetic background 
Hearing of the University of Pennsylvania’s successful 
screening program, the Hytners took their 1998 vaca¬ 
tion in Philadelphia. 

While much of the couple’s concern centered on Vir¬ 
ginia’s genetic background, both prospective parents 
went through the screening process at the Prenatal 
Diagnosis Unit. This procedure is fairly simple for a 
man; only blood tests and sperm samples are required. 
Potential mothers, however, are injected with the hor¬ 
mone-based drug Metrodin to induce “superovulation.” 
This bumper crop of eggs lets doctors collect samples 
for screening. Metrodin and related pharmaceuticals 
frequently bring on PMS-type cramps and other hor¬ 
mone-related discomforts. 

Using the mother’s eggs and the father’s sperm, doc¬ 
tors fertilize several of the eggs in vitro. They then 
allow' the fertilized eggs to grow until the eight-cell 
stage. Once the eggs have reached tills phase, the doc¬ 
tors remove a cel1 from the egg and examine it using 
the university's proprietary tests, as well as a standard 
genetic-screening procedure known as nested PCR, a 
polymerase chain reaction that tags and amplifies DNA 
sequences so that doctors - or, in this case, a computer 
- can look for abnormalities. 

For the Hytners, the tests indicated that the cell 
was clear of disease and congenital defects, and the 
couple chose to have the already-fertilized egg implanted 
in Virginia’s uterus that day. Roteas, a native of San 
Francisco, performed that implantation herself, after 


WIRED MARCH 1998 






if they’ll let me keep mine in my cell?” 


meeting the Hytners during routine rounds at the Prenatal 
Diagnosis Unit. After an overnight stay and an exam the 
next morning, Virginia Hytner was released to rejoin her 
husband and plan the arrival of their first child. 

But something went wrong. 

IPs not hard to believe the doctors and technicians 
at the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit when they say they still 
aren’t sure what happened* Modern jet aircraft, handled 
by expert pilots and aided by the most advanced comput¬ 
ers, still crash* In most of those cases, human error is the 
culprit- Was human error responsible for implanting a 
defective embryo in Virginia Hytner? We will probably 
never know. “There are nights I still lie awake wondering 
what went wrong,” says Koteas. “Did a tech mislabel a 
cel! culture? Or enter data into the new computer incor¬ 
rectly? Did someone read a chart wrong? Was there 
something / did wrong?” 

Virginia gave birth to a daughter on Januaiy 3,1999. 
The child, which had seemed sluggish in the womb, was 
pronounced dead two weeks later of multiorgan failure. 

The cause of death was a subtle one: neonatal lactic 
acidosis, a problem brought about by a defect in the 
mitochondria - microscopic organelles that control the 
metabolism of individual cells - in her mother’s egg. 

A woman can be unaffected by the defective mitochon¬ 
dria in her cells, only to have them wreak havoc in her 
developing offspring. 

The death of the Hytners’ daughter devastated the 
couple. Even now, two years later and after the birth of 
a healthy child, Virginia can’t completely describe how 
she felt: “Numb. 1 felt dead. After all the assurances of 
the doctors, I felt alone and betrayed . ” Koteas, who years 
before had lost a child to a rare chromosomal disease, 
trisomy 13, was also shattered by the baby’s death. “We 
had done so well at the screening clinic, we started to 
believe the university’s hype about us,” she says. “We 
were p erf ect, and then we weren’t, and a child was dead. 
It was awful. 55 

Enter Adam Walken, Koteas’s friend and colleague 
at the Institute for Human Gene Therapy. Walken was 
studying how cells change and break down as they age 
and was interested in finding a way to arrest or reverse 
this process. He had been studying in particular tiny 
sections of chromosomes known as telomeres - chemi¬ 
cal buffers at each end of a chromosome that act like 
the bumpers on a car. They protect the genes inside 
from damage, but each time a cell divides, the telomere 


buffer often decreases in length. Eventually, the telomeres 
become so short that they can’t protect the chromosomes, 
and the cell stops dividing and dies. 

The question Walken - and other researchers - wanted 
to answer was, If you could restore or stop the erosion 
of a cell’s telomeres, could you stop or reverse the aging 
process? One way to find out was through studying pri¬ 
mate cloning. Could the older, telomere-eroded ceils of 
an adult primate be restored to their pristine condition in 
an embryo during the cloning process? When the Oregon 
Regional Primate Research Center in Beaverton cloned 
a rhesus monkey, Walken received a National Science 
Foundation grant to work and study there. 

While the results of his studies on aging are still incon¬ 
clusive (researchers don’t yet understand all the proteins 
that produce telomeres, nor the mechanisms that erode 
the buffers), Walken did learn about the basic science of 
primate cloning and was a member of the team that in 
late 1998 first cloned a chimpanzee (an animal so similar 
to humans that it shares 98 percent of its DNA with us) 
using the technique employed by the Roslin Institute. 
Walken has admitted that while he was working at the 
primate center, he was convinced that human cloning 
was possible but didn’t think he would ever really know 
in his lifetime. “The climate was all wrong. Even to say 
the words was a heresy,” he says. “When the Hytners’ 
daughter died, something clicked in my brain. It wasn’t 
something planned, but the logic was inescapable ” 

It was during a discussion over dinner that the subject 
of human cloning became serious for Koteas and Walken. 
Both had been experiencing crises of faith in their are 
as of expertise and were questioning the possibilities of 
technical fixes to problems such as aging and childbirth. 
“1 told Amanda about depressions we experienced at the 
primate center during some of the cloning trials, but said 
that with concentrated effort, we were confident we had 
worked out a straightforward and reliable process to pro¬ 
duce identical primates for study. She told me about her 
despair over the Hytners. Then, all of a sudden, we just 
sori of looked at each other.” Depending on your point of 
view, either a conspiracy or a bold scientific experiment 
was conceived thal night. 

Despite the almost mystical power of the word cloning, 
tlie process happens constantly in nature and has become 
routine in labs around the world. Identical twins - nor¬ 
mal children born even 7 day - are clones. Amoebae clone 
themselves when they divide. For several years cancer 

WIRED MARCH T 9 9 8 


□ 40 







and retrovirus researchers have been using groups of 
cloned mice to test drug treatments. Plants clone them¬ 
selves when they send off shoots and buds. Many com¬ 
mon fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, 
grapes, garlic, and potatoes have become grocery-store 
staples because of plant breeding and cloning. Cloning 
large animals in a lab, however - especially mammals 
- is more complex. 

When the Roslin Institute conceived the clone Dolly 
in July 1996, seven months before Lhe sheep was pre¬ 
sented to the world, the big question researchers had to 
answer was whether an adult cell that had become spe¬ 
cialized for one part of the body (in the case of Dolly’s 
“mother” an udder cell) could be made to “forget” thaL 
it was specialized and return to a nonspeeialized, embry¬ 
onic state. Dr. Ian Wilmut and his associates al Roslin 
made a breakthrough using a process called demethy- 
lation. Simply, they kept normal nutrients from the cell 
and starved it in a salt solution until it became dor¬ 
mant and stopped dividing. This intervention allowed 
the Roslin team to fuse the sleeping celts genetic mate¬ 
rial with another sheep egg from which the DNA had 
already been removed - a process known as nuclear 
transfer. 


It took the Roslin Institute 277 tries 

to bring a single pregnancy to term. Still, it worked. 
After experimenting with rhesus monkeys for a year, the 
Oregon Regional Primate Research Center could achieve 
pregnancy every 50 attempts. When researchers there 
developed the chemical procedures to demethylate chim¬ 
panzee cells, they hit every 20 tries. 

Once scientists have cracked the method of returning 
cells to their embryonic state, the rest of the cloning 
procedure is a relatively simple, mechanical process. 
After the DNA is inserted into an egg, the team gives it 
a microshock of electricity to fuse them together, and 
then another minuscule jolt - a sort of jump-start - to 
begin cell division. When the cells begin dividing, they 
are transferred to the mother’s womb, just as in any 
ordinary fertility treatment. 

In February 1999 Koteas and Walken determined that 
they had intact cell samples from the Hytners* dead child, 
and the two scientists approached the couple with the 
idea of, in Koteas’s words, “giving them back their child 
- this time, the way she should have been when she w as 
born” The Hytners were resistant at first, still in iso ► 


GO FORTH 

As most of the world now knows, G. Richard Seed, Harvard 
graduate, career physicist, and rogue scientist, aims to 
change the course of human evolution. He intends to done 
us, and the government be damned. But pulling a complete 
human from his DNA top hat is only part of the trick Seed 
daims to be capable of. ft*s the peripheral knowledge - 
the intellectual fallout from cloning - that really revs 
Seed's engine: in his vision, human cloning isn't just about 
making spare copies of yourself, it's about providing rapid 
cures for a host of diseases, including cancer, and... well, 
maybe you'd better hear this for yourself. Wired caught 
up with the peripatetic Seed at his home in Chicago. 

- Richard Kadrey 

"First of all, I believe in God, Second, I'm a Christian. 

Third, I'm a Methodist, a very serious Methodist. The 
Bible says that God made Man in his own image. The 
Bible also says that Man will become one with God. 

To explain this, let me digress a little; During the first 
few hundred years of the Christian church, there were 
constant arguments and debates. One of the big argu¬ 
ments was about the resurrection of Christ. Was the 
resurrection in spirit or was the resurrection in body? 

This was a schism of major proportions. It was settled 
around the third century, and the resolution was that 
Christ was resurrected in both spirit and body. This is 
still the doctrine in Christian churches all over the 
world. The same interesting question is present now. 

When God intends to meet Man with himself, is that 
in spirit or in body? I choose the interpretation that it 
includes spirit and body both. Human cloning is one 
small step in that direction. 

You can now seriously contemplate unlimited life 
extension and unlimited access to knowledge. The Scot¬ 
tish cloning experiments proved that you can reprogram 
the DNA in cells back to division zero - back to undifferen¬ 
tiated cells. If we can learn to reprogram DNA back from 
division 30 to division 15, that would be great. You're 
going to be 20 years old again! And we could repeat 
that as many times as you'd want It's mind boggling. 

But I'm really interested in more immediate applica¬ 
tions. What if we took a cancerous cell of the same type 
used in Scotland - a mammary-gland epithelial \$2 ► 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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Crop Circles 

Steve Alexander began photograph¬ 
ing crop circles after he witnessed a 
ball of light over a field in Wiltshire, 
England. These nine shots date from 
1994 through 1997 and are available, 
for a price, at alpha.mk.dundee.ac.uk 
/ft/aop_ drdes/XCE R TS/ste ve.h tm L 
Indeed, for every attempt to explain 
these mysterious patterns' origins - 
plasma vortex, military experiment, 
alien spaceship landing - there are 
a thousand "experts" ready to sell 
you their theory. Curiously, no one 
has yet spotted a formation resem¬ 
bling the dollar sign, - Tom Chburn 


WIRED MARCH 





































































































































































Wired: How has computer science contributed to the field 
of evolutionary psychology? 

Pinker: Traditional evolutionary explanations of the mind 
have been very crude, relying on things like territorial 
imperative” and “sex drive ” Given the complexity and 
richness of human thought, that's not a satisfactory 
answer. But if what evolved is a complex set of informa¬ 
tion processing mechanisms - neural circuitry designed 
for intricate computation - then you can have both the 
richness of human thought and a scientific framework 
to make sense of it. 

So the brain is a naturally evolved neural computer. 

Who shares that view? 

Virtually everyone in cognitive science, from Marvin 
Minsky to Noam Chomsky; It ! s actually easier to point 
to the people who think the brain is not a neural com¬ 
puter - they are flamboyant, though few in number and 
unrepresentative. 

It’s hard to ignore that our brains are made of infor¬ 
mation processors. Down to a neuron's axon and mole¬ 
cules, the nerve cell is designed to be an information 
carrier. Too often we think of neurons as bean counters, 
but they're much more like sophisticated chips or micro¬ 
computers. And if neurons are like chips, when you wire 
up a hundred billion of them yon get a very powerful 
computational device. That's the only explanation for 
how a hunk of matter can do intelligent things - unless 
you think there's a special kind of substance necessary 
for intelligence, which would mean robots and artificial 
intelligence cannot be created. 

Does this mean that to build smart machines we should 
study the evolution of the human brain? 

The answer is an emphatic yes. Nature has been doing 
R&D much longer than humans, and engineers often 
learn from the natural w r orld. For example, composite 
materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, which embed 
filaments in a matrix, are based on the design of wood. 
Genetic algorithms are obviously based on natural selec¬ 
tion. And stereopholography* used in aerial reconnais¬ 
sance, is based on stereovision in animals. 

Whether working with neurons or transistors, is there only 
one way to make a developed brain? 

That is the question of artificial intelligence. Some scien¬ 
tists suggest there may be only one way to build an intel¬ 
ligent device, and. therefo re, if w e build one ours elves 
we will automatically learn about the human mind. My 
sentiment is that in general there's more than one way 
to skin a cat - there are almost always multiple algo¬ 
rithms, In biological evolution, you often find different 
solutions to a given problem - compound eyes in arthro¬ 
pods versus camera-like vertebrate eyes, internal versus 
external skeletons, and so on. 


Harvey Blume (joel@ai.mit.edu) often writes on culture 
and new media. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 


Not everything about the brain is perfect. Mental "noise" 
often clouds our memory of details and facts. What func¬ 
tion does this serve? 

Noise - because it is noise, because it's not systematic 
- is hard to pinpoint. Our faulty memory, for example, 
might be noise, or it might he the result of a trade-off. 

If the brain was a perfectly accurate information pro¬ 
cessor, our heads could be too big to cany around on 
our necks. Or we might starve to death because the 
brain would eat up two-thirds of our daily caloric 
intake. Also, if we remembered absolutely everything, 
it could he like one of those Internet searches where 
you type in a keyword and get 6,000 matches. What 
we think of as bugs in memoiy might 
instead be features; maybe the most 
relevant, most useful piece of infor¬ 
mation is simply what pops into our 
mind first. 

Won't people object to the idea that 
our minds are neural networks, noth¬ 
ing more or less than complex compu¬ 
tational devices? 

There is resistance. A number of 
moral notions, such as free will, 
hinge on our not being just data- 
processing machines. 

How does evolutionary psychology 
define free will? 

Free will is not a scientific concept: 
it means “not caused by anything,” 
and the scientific worldview can only 
seek causes. It is a moral concept - 
an idealization of human beings for 
the purpose of moral reasoning that 
designates certain kinds of behavior 
as those for which people ought to 
be held responsible. Which kinds? 

Roughly, those that involve the 
higher decisionmaking circuits of 
the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex, which can be 
influenced by knowledge of the consequences of certain 
ty pes of behavior and other people's opinions of those 
behaviors. 

We have to go on trying to apply scientific reasoning 
to human behavior. But we also have to remember that 
ethical reasoning is in a separate sphere that cannot and 
should not be confused with science. 

Is this what you mean when you write in How the Mind 
Works that certain kinds of problems are hard for us to 
resolve "because the mind of Homo sapiens lacks the 
cognitive equipment to solve them"? 

Right, It has to do with a limitation of our abilities to 
conceptualize. Maybe Martians could explain things like 
free will to us. But if they did, we might not understand 
the explanation. ■ ■ ■ 


Steven Pinker's best-selling book. The 
Language Instinct (1994), provided 
a lucid description of the human brain's 
amazing linguistic capabilities and 
showed how language arose in the 
course of evolution. In his controversial 
How the Mind Works (1997), Pinker stalks 
even bigger game: the mind itself. 

Pinker argues that we should "reverse- 
engineer" the brain - figuring out what 
natural selection designed it to do in the 
environment in which we evolved. Along 
the way, he breathes new life into old 
theories - that the mind is a machine, 
that human nature is shaped by natural 
selection. He also debunks conventional 
thinking - that parents socialize their 
young, that we acquire reading, math, 
and higher skills instincfualJy. His find¬ 
ings, both big and small, have broad- 
reaching implications for how we live our 
lives, H7red caught up with Pinker at MIT, 
where he is a professor and director of 
the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. 


QBE 


WIRED MARCH 1998 









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aain lie ie aaiefl ad Jeindad jsaai aqi u aqeai padiaq saei pjeqaip s,uiaaa 

‘siaaai Maa OaiaOisap pae aaiGaa su Oaiqaeq Ag 


ssaipuegavu puieg Ag 















un-and-knife show! Something for all the family!" 
screams a billboard as Sverre Kvernmo cuts through 
downtown Dallas in his dented BMW. 

It's 103 degrees on a hot, thick day. Kvernmo 
cruises past a rotating restaurant shaped like a huge golf ball, 
peppered with lights and perched on a stick 580 feet high .In 
the distance a flag-bedecked castle and a replica of an Indian 
fortress peek through the haze. Crazy place, Dallas. 

The LBJ Freeway slices between skyscrapers built by big oil 
and, more recently, Ross Perot. The Texas Commerce Tower, the 
second-tallest structure in town, is famous for having a hole 
in the middle - on purpose. The building's penthouse is even 
better known in other circles because of its resident - John 
Romero, owner of Ion Storm and cocreator of Doom and Quake. 
Six blocks down, on a touristy promenade just a gunshot away 
from a certain notorious book depository, resides Ritual Enter¬ 
tainment, maker of a Quake-powered game called Sin. Nearby 
Garland, Texas, is home to Apogee Software, creator of Duke 
Nukem 3D. A couple of miles south, in Mesquite, lies id Soft¬ 
ware, where Romero's erstwhile partner John Carmack contin¬ 
ues to tap the profits of Doom. "That," Kvernmo says, "is where 
it ail started " A grimy Holiday Inn sails by. 

It's all here in this lO-mlle stretch of asphalt that links Dallas's 
latest booming industry: the 10-gallon paychecks, the double 
deals, the internecine digital warfare. Indeed, the high-stakes 
gamesmanship is what makes Sverre Kvernmo call this gun- 
and-knife city home. He is a "Doom Baby," raw gamemaking 
talent spawned by Doom's release four years ago. 

In the early '90s, Kvernmo was cleaning hospital hallways in 
Norway. Now he builds virtual environments for shoot-'em-ups. 
In a world gone 3-D crazy, he has become one of the industry's 
most valuable commodities. 

Tm being paid to do exactly what I want!" the 26-year-old 
shouts. "I can't believe Tm here. I'm from a town north of the 
polar circle in Norway - really exciting/' he scoffs. "I would 
probably be killing whales or something if It weren't for the 

Internet and 
Doom” 



In 1991 Doom arose from Dallas and went 
supernova, at once Game as Mifflon-Dollar 
Revenue Machine and Game as Open System. Its code was 
semHntentionally left ajar on release. A couple of signposts, 
a few backdoors, and some secret passages into its structure 
- enough to inspire a fevered community of hackers to dissect, 

David McCandless (dmacca#cix.co.uk) is a London-based 
freelance writer and musician. 


reverse-engineer, and completely redesign the game thou¬ 
sands of times over. 

Hacking Doom swiftly became a massive underground indus¬ 
try - gigabytes of add-ons, graphics, and levels were passed 
around the planet. By letting code and schematics filter into 
the public domain, id effectively licensed its game to the world. 

Kvernmo, in the meantime, became a lord in Doom's ama¬ 
teur fiefdom. For if manipulating the engine was an art, level 
design - a combination of hard coding and high design - was 
its purest form. Sure, the engine powers the game and handles 
the placement of every entity - the chain guns, the moaning 
zombies, the blood-soaked walls. It defines the physics, creates 
the sound, and makes sure everything is combined in a seam¬ 
less world. But here's a dirty little secret: an engine by itself 
is just a piece of mechanics. The game experience comes down 
to the enclosed environments where you do your fighting, 
exploring, and dying. The maps. The levels. 

Of the hundreds of would-be level lords, only a handful 
showed true promise. Thanks to the Net, experts like Kvernmo 
swiftly became celebrities in their own crazy comer of game 
land. Adopting comic-book names like Dr Sleep, Paradox, and 
Cranium to increase their mystique, they spent days turned 
months turned years obsessively honing their skills. 

Doom spawned these skilled fanatics, but it was id's next 
game, Quake f that reared them Into professional talent. For 
while they ferreted away on the amateur scene, the fabled 
egos at id, John Romero and John Carmack, had split. Eccentric 
designer and game lover Romero left to form Ion Storm and 
begin work on one of its first product, the time-travel epic 
Daikatana . King coder and tech lover Carmack remained to 
pursue ever more revolutionary pro¬ 
gramming feats, all to be expressed 
in id's Quake U. 

Meanwhile, other companies set 
about licensing the Quake engine as a 
platform for their own games. Almost 
overnight, demand for skilled design¬ 
ers triggered a feeding frenzy, id was 


there offering jobs to the 
very talent it had created. 
So was Ion Storm. So were 
the checkbooks of publish¬ 
ers like Activision, Sierra 
On-Line, and Eidos Inter¬ 
active. And in the middle 
of it all, the Doom Babies. 


wo years ago, Kvernmo left his native Norway to study 
art in Bristol, England. He barely made it to lectures, 
though, because he was addicted to Doom . Not just play¬ 
ing the game - changing it, building ever more convoluted 
killing arenas. "For three months solid I worked late into the 
night, fell asleep, woke up early, and started ail over again." 


When Oaam was 
released in 1993, 
its cnde was left 
semi-intentionally 
alar - far enough 
to inspire hackers 
to dissect, 
reverse-engineer, 
and completely 
redesign the 
game thousands 
of time over. 




Quake n [left to right]: 
getting ready to launch 
grenades at a gladiator; 
a drop-ship prepares 
Id tire pods toward 
certain doom; relying 
on a rail gun to tight 
through the jail level. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 











Mis levels, meanwhile, traveled at warp speed through the 
wires, siphoned off to every corner of the globe. Kvernmo was 
soon spotted and snapped up by LA-based game developer 
Xatrix Entertainment. Despite the remonstrations of his par¬ 
ents, he flew out and joined the design team for a Doom- 
m eets -Deliverance title, Redneck Rampage . 

Six months later, John Romero called. "He really wanted 
me to be a part of his new project," Kvernmo says, "and it 
was Romero, phoning me, I, we - all of us - loved Romero." 

Beyond the allure of the fat paycheck, "creativity and design 
were the focus of Ion Storm, so it seemed like the perfect place 
to work," Kvernmo says. "I had to go /' He completed the final 
leg of his pilgrimage in March 1997, arriving in Dallas to find 
that his contemporaries had already made the journey. 

Ion Storm is not just the domain of twentynothings, however. 

John W, Anderson (aka Dr Sleep) 
works in a booth alongside Kvernmo. 
Forty-one and graying, he brought his 


Dead," was the first eight-level episode of Doom - regarded as 
the seminal work, it's still played by tens of millions of people 
worldwide. His artistry, eccentricity, obsession with a good 
death match, and pop-star looks made Romero the public face 
of Doom, the frontman for thousands of adoring nerds. 

"For us," says Anderson, "Romero was id." 

"I really wanted to be with Romero," Kvernmo confesses. 

Sitting in a small booth opposite Kvernmo, Romero is play¬ 
ing a "milkmatdi"- a deathmatch with a twist "Whoever loses 
the best of two out of three has to drink rotten milk out of 
a jug that's been sitting there for months," Romero explains, 
laughing maniacally. His eyes are rooted to the screen."You 
pour it into a big cup. It comes out in like yellow blocks." 

Romero clearly 
loves what he 
does and goes at 
it with a shrewd 
yet childlike 


Baikatana (left to rifiltl): 
a satyr guards a temple 
an the isle at Crete; 
Inside a regal grand hall 
in ine palace nn Knossos; 
the futuristic Benetran 
Research Center, where 
the cure fnr AIDS is 
discovered in 2030. 




baby grand piano from 
Pennsylvania so he could 
play Schumann when not 
building classical Greek-inspired Daikatana maps. 

Like Kvernmo s mania, Anderson's obsession with Doom 
changed his life.The fixation first drew him out of the Penn¬ 
sylvania Department of Public Welfare to the Action Games 
Forum on CompuServe, which, in 1994, had become a mecca 
for Doom heads and architectural aspirants. At its height, any¬ 
one who was anyone in the community hung out there. 

Within weeks of Doom's shareware release in December 1993, 
map editors appeared, allowing items to be repositioned, floors 
to be raised or lowered. Yet the first levels were mere rework¬ 
ings of the existing maps - nobody had sufficiently reverse- 
engineered the technology to start new levels from scratch. 

The breakthrough came three months later, when a group 
of students working at England's University of Bradford com¬ 
bined the efforts of hackers worldwide and cracked the final 
layer of Doom's map format. They recompiled the BSP tree - 
a mathematical representation of a 3-D level - which allowed 
them to reconstruct the geometry of the maps. And that was 
it. Building on the existing work of amateur hacker Brendon 
Wyber, Belgian student Raphael Quinet built a level editor 
called DEU around an algorithm and uploaded it March 30, 
1994. Literally overnight, the first all-new levels arrived and 
the community was in place. Levels swamped FTP sites and 
CompuServe file libraries. 

These new worlds, though, were only outposts in the universe 
created by John Romero. He is the first 3-D level designer, the 
Yoda of the Doom Babies. Romero's opus, "Knee Deep in the 


intensity. "Kvernmo s so cool," he says, wide- 
eyed. "And we've got Dr Sleep, He's cool, too/' 
It's not boasting or a marketing ploy. Romero 
is genuinely excited by the talent that sur¬ 
rounds him. But then, he played hard to get it. 
"He said:'Pack your stuff and come down/" recalls Anderson. 
"'What, next week?' I asked. Ho,' he said,Tut your stuff in a car 
and come down now/" Two days later. Dr Sleep settled into one 
of Romero's many spare rooms. 

Like deathmatchlng, game design is a bloodthirsty business. 
It's an industry that has already jumped into Hollywood's billion- 
dollar bracket. How, with more than a jug of rotten milk at 
stake, Romero is playing a bigger match - against his former 
colleagues at id, and against the many companies that have 
licensed the Quake engine as the backbone of new games. 

"Why bother paying the best guys in the universe to build 
you a brand-new game engine when you can hire one?" says 
Romero. "Everyone can have John Carmack working for them " 
Well, not everyone, If you're making less than US$5,000 
a month from Quake t you have nothing to fear. However, id 
claims 12.5 percent of your net income over that amount. And 
if you license the Quake engine for your own title, it comes 
with a hefty price tag, currently around $500,000. The flat fee 
is negotiable, depending on royalty agreements, but either 
way, a percentage of every Quake engine game sold goes to id. 

id had additional incentive to tighten the financial reins. 

"A shitty cottage industry sprang up out of Doom" explains 
Kvernmo,"Loads of people were doing crap maps or collecting 
them off the Internet and then sticking them on a CD and sell¬ 
ing them for like 40 bucks each/' 

Poor-quality maps meant bad PR for Doom, Ironically, the 
profusion of crappy levels created huge demand for i m * 


WIRED MARCH 1990 


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Wired: My father's life, when he was my age, was not much differ¬ 
ent from mine in its daily routine. Is change slowing down? 

Drucker: I’ve been telling people for 30 years that material 
changes in our lives are almost irrelevant. The important 
changes are demographic, in health care and education. The 
demographic revolution of the last 40 years is unprecedented. 
Today, the majority of people around the world live in cities. 
Urbanization changes your worldview. So, the real change is 
in meaning, not in goods. 

What can we expect to happen because of these changes? 

Thirty years from now, the big cities may be dying very fast. 
Downtown office buildings have become dysfunctional. As infor¬ 
mation and ideas have become mobile, the kind of work that 
doesn't require contact with customers or contact with other 
professionals - in other words, 75 percent of the work in any 
organization - doesn't have to be done downtown. For 300-odd 
years we have had a continuing, occasionally interrupted real 
estate boom. It was slowed down by depression, but not stopped. 
That boom may be over for good. 

Asia is disagreeing with you. They are building super high-rises. 

Malaysia, for instance, is committed to building the world's most 
disagreeable city. TheyTe building megalomaniac skyscrapers, 
the biggest mosque, and the biggest traffic jams. It isn't just the 
old cities that have become nightmares. The new ones are just 
as bad. 

Do you agree that the influence of government is withering? 

Government is a growth industry. With all the talk about cutting 
government, the governmental share of the total gross national 
product has actually grown steadily in the last 20 years. It’s now 
about a third or more all over the world. Business - the produc¬ 
tion of goods and services for consumption - as a share of the 
gross national product has been going downhill steadily since 
1900, All of business, including farming, is shrinking at the rate 
of perhaps 1 percent a year, compounded. 

So business is waning and government is rising! 

Look, France under Louis XIV or XV had probably 4,000 central 
government employees in total. When people talk of Versailles, 
they think it was an enormous, luxurious castle. Actually, it was 
a small, squalid office building. The royal quarters were no larger 
than my house. I have a big house, 2,500 square feet because 
both my wife and 1 work at home. Rut the king of France didn't 
have much more. The rest of Versailles was unbelievably squalid 
office space in which the families of the government employees 
lived in corners of rooms, without indoor toilets. Yon couldn't 

even fit a s mall bureaucrac y in V ersailles._ 

Since 1900 the growth areas have been government, education, 
and health care. Government, which has been growing, may stop 
growing. We may be at the crest. 

Do you believe there's a growing gap between the rich and the 
poor in America? 

The way you phrase it, the answer is no. The gap is quite differ- 
ent. There is a growing gap between people with advanced edu¬ 
cation and people without. The difference in income for an 


Kevin Kelly {kevin@wired.com) is Wired's executive editor. 


Afro-American with a college degree is statistically insignificant 
(if you adjust for age and length of service) from the income of 
a white, Latino, or Asian with a college degree. Up to about 1970 
it was economically nonrational to go to college - in other words, 
you did better economically by not going to college and instead 
getting a unionized job in the mass-production industiy. But 
those kinds of jobs are disappearing. And since those jobs were 
relatively disproportionately filled by blacks, it hurts the black 
community most. So the gap is almost 100 percent educational. 

Is capitalism changing? 

At the height of his fortune, J. P. Morgan was probably worth 
one-third of what Bill Gates is worth now, adjusted for inflation. 
Out of his own pocket, X P. Morgan could finance all of America's 
economic needs (except residential housing) for four months. 
Bill Gates's US$36 billion would let him finance America for 
maybe two days. The rich no longer matter. TheyTe celebrities, 
not capitalists anymore. The real capitalists are the middle-class 
people who put $25,000 into a mutual fund - that's many trillions 
of dollars. 

Do you favor antitrust action against 
Microsoft? 

The main mission of American 
antitrust efforts has always been to 
bring a suit when the monopoly is just 
about over. Historical leaders like 
Microsoft are very vulnerable to miss¬ 
ing a strategic turn. If youTe that far 
out and that dominant, you have no 
friends. YouTe exposed. But when you 
get in trouble, you need Mends. 

Microsoft is in an exposed position, 
and it takes just one major mistake, 
one major messing up of a major 
turning point, and then nobody will 
lift a finger to help them. 

Is Microsoft going to bo the next IBM? 

The probability is yes. Actually, there is an outsize probability 
that Microsoft may be tomorrow's Control Data, which essentially 
disappeared. 

Thirty years ago, I began to doubt IBM's model, but for the 
wrong reasons technologically. I didn't see the PC coming any 
more than anybody else. I saw the likelihood of the computer 
approaching either the telephone or the TV set or both. Which 
it didn't do - yet. Instead, we got the PC. 

Are there any theories of information economics you respect? 
Current economics is merely refining the obsolete. Economic 
theory is still based on the scarcity axiom, which doesn't apply 
to information. When T sell yon a phone, I no longer have it. 
When 1 sell information to you, 1 have more information by the 
very fact that you have it and I know you have It. That's not even 
true of money. 

Do you think there is anything to this idea of a network economy? 

In any community in transition, it is more important whom 
you know than what you know. That's the right definition of 
networking, m m m 


If Marshall McLuhan is Wired 's 
patron saint, then Peter Drucker 
should be its official oracle. 
Drucker has the great advantage 
over McLuhan in that, at age 83, 
he is still as astute and timely as 
ever. And because Drucker is a 
historian who also gets his hands 
dirty with real-life management 
issues, he has a reputation in 
the business world that is truly 
Olympian. Kevin Kelly made his 
annual trek to Drucker's ranch 
home in Southern California to 
hear what the oracle is uttering 
these days. 


OSD 


WIRED MARCH 1998 









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f t's 10:25 on a steamy ; 
late-summer morning in central 
Florida,and I'm standing on a nar¬ 
row steel catwalk surrounded by 
an old-growth forest of American 
historical figures: Ben Franklin, 

Will Rogers, Susan B. Anthony,Fred¬ 
erick Douglass, and a dozen others. 
We're waiting for the morning run- 
through to begin. And it's dark down 
here below the stage, save for the 
glow from green and amber indi¬ 
cator lights. 

Bruce Long, a Disney Imagineer 
who is in charge of "show quality"' 
at the company's six theme parks 
around the world, is standing next 
to me,"Make sure you don't lean 
over the rails here, or you'll shut 
down the show," he says. "We've 
got indicators that keep an 
eye on that, so you don't get 
hurt by any of the hydraulic 
lifts going up and down/' 

Long shoots me a look that 
lets me know I'm infinitely 
less predictable than his cast of 
audio-animatronic figures.Then he 
gives the cue for two technicians 
to fire the show before guests 
begin streaming through the gates 
of Epcot Center's World Showcase 
at 11 a.m. 

Up above my head, powerful 
speakers begin to spout patriotic 
music "America did not exist," 
intones Ben Franklin, launching into 
a 30-minute history lesson that 
Disney has dubbed The American 
Adventure. All around me, latex- 
skinned icons of the nation's past 
get their cues from a magnetic tape 
loop and spring to life.Thomas 
Jefferson drafts the Declaration of 
Independence. Franklin Roosevelt 
delivers a rousing rendition of "The 
only thing we have to fear is fear 
itself." A giant tray that holds every 


Animatroirics cost 
$25,000 for a 
generic model and 
up to $1 million for 
the most elaborate 
characters. 


prop and figure used in the show - 
Long refers to it as "the war wagon" 
- slides slowly toward the back of 
the theater. Long, a 26-year Disney 
veteran, watches the proceedings 
with the casual intensity of a jeweler. 
His job is make sure that Disney's 
Industrial-strength illusions stay 
convincing enough to keep the 
crowds coming - and the dollars 
pouring in -12 hours a day, 365 
days a year. Imagineering isn't a bad 
word for what he does - whimsy, 
perfectionism, and sleekly efficient 
capitalism all rolled into one. 

"D'jou see that?" Long asks as 
Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Gra¬ 


ham Bell, Susan B> Anthony, and 
Mark Twain rise up to stage level. 
"The middle lift there was doggin'" 

I have to shake my head. I didn't 
notice anything - and when the 
audience arrives, it's not likely any¬ 
one else will, either. But Long, with 
a glance, can pick out "slop" in a 
robot's finger movements or the 
"steppiness"in an arm sweep.Right 
now,The American Adventure is 
doing pretty well. Of the 811 ani¬ 
mated functions on Long's checklist 
- every hydraulically powered nod 
and wave, plus smoke effects, light¬ 
ing, and projections - the only prob¬ 
lem is that sticky lift. The rating: 


99.14 percent, up from the last 
assessment's mediocre 98.2 percent. 

It's serious business running the 
most sophisticated virtual world 
ever created. Put on your best VR 
goggles and gloves, hook up to the 
high-powered workstation of your 
choice, and you'll never come close 
to what US$42 a day ($34, if you're 
9 or under) gets you at one of the 
theme parks people like Bruce Long 
put together. Disney has the kind of 
control over visitors'experiences - 
what they see, smell, hear, and feel 
- that videogame builders can only 
dream of. Bran Ferren, Imagineer- 
ing's executive vice president and a 


WIRED MARCH 1993 


□ 60 


IMAGE; NO&MAtl MAUSKOPF 















IMAGE! NORMAN MAU5KOPF 



Tfie first Disney anim^V 
tronic attraction was the 
Enchanted Tiki Room at 
Disneyland in Anaheim, 
California. It opened in 
1963 and features 225 
singing flowers, tiki 
£3 gods, and birds. 


to produce Walt's dream of "plussed-up" reality 


AMERICAN 

EXPRESS 

hsi: Y ORDERS 


Sleepy time down South: each 
hydraulically powered wave and 
nod is refined beforehand on hybrid 
agimatronic figures (opposite): 
locals listen to FDR's New Deal on 
the radio in The American Adventure 


Source: Disney's Information 
Services Department 


former Hollywood f/x master, knows 
as much about state-of-the-art iliu- 
sionmaking as anyone alive today. 
But Disneyland, he says, was built in 
1955 "at a higher resolution with 
bricks and mortar than 
we can do using bits 
today," 

Like its purely digital 
counterparts, Disney's 
aim is to envelop visi¬ 
tors -40 million a year 
to Florida's Walt Disney 
World alone - in a seamless enter¬ 
tainment experience. "When you 
come into our park, you should 
leave the distractions of the outside 


About 5,000 working 
parts make up the 
A100 robot, allowing 
the lifelike figure to 
perform 44 different 
movements. 


world behind," says Greg Em men 
vice president of the Magic King¬ 
dom and a Disney cast member 
{there are no employees here) since 
1968."All this technology is just a 
means to present 
shows and tell stories." 

Show is a key word 
in the Disney lexicon. 
From the moment 
guests (never "cus¬ 
tomers") steer their 
shiny rental cars onto 
the 47-square-mile property south- 
west of Orlando, they're part of a 
m o n u me nta I p rod ucti on. The 44,000 
cast members all have "roles" - even 


the toll-booth attendant who hands 
you a guidebook as he collects the 
$5 parking fee. 

The Imagmeers - based at Dis¬ 
ney's Glendale, California, head¬ 
quarters - don't wa nt you to j ust 
step inside their world and wander 
around,They want to entertain you. 
They want to direct your attention 
like a master magician, mount par¬ 
ades that force you to stand and 
gawk, and engineer enough distrac¬ 
tions into a queue area to almost 
make you overlook that you've 
waited more than an hour in the 
blazing sun for the privilege of 
climbing Into a fiberglass log and 


plunging down an artificial waterfall. 

Every sort of show is a manufac¬ 
tured experience - lines are written 
in a script, stage directions mapped 
out, the lighting cues carefully 
rehearsed But Disney's theme parks 
take the concept of "show" to a new 
level.This is an alternate reality, a 
set of illusions so complete that 
people happily immerse themselves 
for days - and come back again for 
more. Indeed, so compelling are 
Disney's virtual worlds that the real 
world has begun turning to the 
Imagineers for help in reaching its 
own full Disneyesque potential.The 
Mouse now stages Fourth of July 




WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 S 







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fireworks and parades for towns "off 
property"(as the outside world is 
known),and Imagineers are leading 
the redevelopment of that dingiest 
of Main Streets, New York's Times 
Square. Disney put a megastore on 
42nd Street and renovated the his¬ 
toric New Amsterdam Theater, then 
threw a massive parade in midtown 
Manhattan last summer to celebrate 
the release of Hercules. For those 


seeking total immersion, the com¬ 
pany even offers real estate in its 
own town, the nostalgia-enhanced 
planned community called Celebra¬ 
tion Just outside Orlando. After 
more than 40 years in the theme- 
park business, Disney's enhanced 
reality is proving too attractive for 
the real world to resist. 

But the Disney parks in central 
Florida are still the unchallenged 


champs of "plussed-up" reality, to 
use a term that Walt loved to toss 
around.This is a nice euphemism for 
strategy worthy of a military cam¬ 
paign: no chewing gum is sold here, 
so you won't wind up with a wad 
on the bottom of your shoe; you're 
never more than 30 or so yards from 
a rest room, even when wandering 
the streets of a 19th-century gold 
rush town."Disney World shows you 


how seductive life can be in a situa¬ 
tion that's totally controlled,"says 
Stephen Fjellman, a Florida Interna¬ 
tional University anthropologist and 
author of the book Vinyl Leaves: 
Walt Disney World and America. The 
heart of Disney's success, Fjellman 
observes, is the masterful subtlety 
with which it wields near-total con¬ 
trol over the guest's experience. 

In fact, technology dominates 


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Bells and whistles: George Smith 
(opposite) orchestrates a parade^Qn ^ 

Main Street from Central Engineering; 0 

fireworks above Cinderella Castle, 


Disney enchantment. "Backstage" at 
the company's parks, low-light cam¬ 
eras and motion sensors monitor 
mischief-minded guests in dark 
rides like The Haunted Mansion. 
Uniformed men pushing gas-powered 
vacuum cleaners show up after 
every parade to make the confetti 
disappear. A barcoded wardrobe 
system uses a supermarket-style 
scanner to check out every item 


of clothing that every 
cast member wears 
and later check every piece 
back in for laundering. A corporate 
intranet helps keep cast members 
informed so they can better answer 
guest questions {a favorite:"What 
time does the 3 p,m. parade start?"). 
An infrared network even hooks up 
cash registers in popcorn carts to a 
pa rk's fi n a n c i a 1-re porti ng system. 


120,000 email 
messages a day 
handled by 
company servers 


It's ail designed to be 
unobtrusive and nearly 
invisible. But as a native 
Miamian who grew up going to the 
parks, that's what I really wanted to 
see. So I put a call in to Disney pub¬ 
lic relations, asking about access to 
the cast members who run Walt 
Disney World and the places they 
work. Disney came back with one 
stipulation: discussions about park 


security were off-limits. Otherwise 
- to my amazement - they agreed, 

I'm cruising past the secu¬ 
rity guard who monitors 
^access to the service area 
behind the Magic Kingdom, Follow¬ 
ing the road around the outskirts of 
Main Street and Tomorrowland, we 
pull in to a small parking fot behind 
Fantasyland.This is one of the main 



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WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 S 











entrances to the Utilidor [utility corridor). Rather 
than being underground, the Utilidor is actually 
the first floor of the park; In Florida, the water 
table is never far from the surface, so a real base¬ 
ment isn't practical. We enter the tunnel. It's hard 
not to be surprised by how different the back- 
stage areas are from what the guests see.The 
rendering is much lower-res back here - gray 
paint, poured concrete floors, and plain fluores¬ 
cent lights. 

It's also hard not to notice how dramatically 
the Utilidor shrinks things. Upstairs, Disney deploys 
every illusion in its formidable repertoire to make 
the park seem vast and spread out, to separate 
19th-century Main Street from 21st-century 
Tomorrowland. 

Here, it J s efficiency 
they're after, and 
no two points in 
the park are more 
than a 10-minute 
walkapart.And if 
you're really in a 
hurry,you can grab 
an electric golf cart. 

The Utilidor 
enables cast mem¬ 
bers to don their 
costumes (not 
"uniforms") and 
report to their 
stations without 
having to negoti¬ 
ate the crowds 
upstairs. And it 
allows technicians 
easy access to the guts of the park. Wiring and 
piping run along the ceiling; on a recent hot 
summer afternoon, a pair of techies were 
installing a new fiber-optic line without break¬ 
ing a sweat. Every 15 minutes or so, a sound 
like a tornado whirls by overhead: that's the 
park's vacuum-powered garbage system, suck¬ 
ing another batch to a central processor. 

The Utilidor would baffle the hel! out of a 
5-year-old. Snow White and Alice walk by In 
street clothes, identifiable only by their wigs and 
heavy makeup. A woman in Pluto feet shuffles 
toward the Fantasyland cafeteria, dad in a Dis- 
ney-issue gray T-shirt and shorts. Seven familiar¬ 
looking dwarf heads hang from a concrete wall. 
At the mouth of the Utllidor,a Tomorrowland 
cast member smokes a butt and unwinds. 

In front of a door marked Engineering Central, 
we stop to wait for clearance. A biometric hand 


reader on the wall, made by a company called 
Recognition Systems, scans the size and shape 
of your fingers, compares them with a template 
stored in a database, and makes up its mind 
about whether you're entitled to access. We're 
not in the database, so we hit the intercom 
buzzer instead After a few moments, an elderly 
woman pushes open the door and announces, 
"Door's broken. Come on in." 

Inside, behind a bank of PCs and VT220 ter¬ 
minals, a handful of cast members monitor not 
just the operations of the Magto Kingdom's 
attractions, but also food-storage freezers, water 
pumps and wells,and lighting,fire-detection, 
and security systems.This is the Centra! Console. 

"We try to catch things 
before they go 101," 
says service manager 
George Smith, using the 
Disney code for "offline." 
As if on cue, an alarm 
goes off. "That means 
there's something 
wrong with one of the 
motors at Tomorrow- 
land Transit Authority," 
Smith says, referring to 
an open-air passenger 
train powered by about 
450 linear-induction 
motors."Everything that 
comes in gets logged so 
we can analyze it later." 

The Central Console 
includes a PC with a 
graphic display of all 
the juice that the Florida Power & Light Company 
is feeding to Walt Disney World."We get a lot of 
power glitches from thunderstorms," explains 
Nick Blackwell, Engineering Central's manager. 
"And occasionally there are outages, despite the 
fact that we have redundant backup substations. 
If we lose power to Small World, we get an alarm 
here, and then we can troubleshoot it and see 
what the cause is. If we need to, we pick up the 
hot line to the folks at Reedy Creek Energy Ser¬ 
vices/ part of the Reedy Creek Improvement 
District,a nominally governmental body that 
Disney created (with approval from Florida's 
eager legislators) to oversee its property. Reedy 
Creek has its own two generators - gas turbine 
and steam turbine - and enough leeway from 
Florida's tourism-hungry state government in 
Tallahassee to build a nuclear plant if Disney 
so desires. tae ► 


DiSney Dollar$ 

Walt Disney Company 
Annual Revenue 
CUSS billions) 


Disney Theme Parks 
and Resorts 
Annual Revenue 

Source: The Walt Disney Company 


5.8 



mo 1985 1990 



1995 2000 


We the People 

As a PhD candidate in artificial 
intelligence at Carnegie Mellon, 
Astro Teller decided to explore the 
many faces of American culture. 
Armed with databases, a digital 
camera, and face-recognition soft¬ 
ware, Teller and designer Christo¬ 
pher Pacione created Jedermann, 
a two-part collection of composite 
portraits. The first features visitors 
to a Pittsburgh gallery and a Web 
site {www.cs.emu.edu/afs/cs.cmu 
,edufuser fas trofmosak/JEDERMANN 
.htmf). The second focuses on vari¬ 
ous cultural icons; pictured here is 
a composite of sitting US Democra¬ 
tic senators."The collective visages 
act as psychological mirrors/ Teller 
tells us/This is the friendly, make- 
you-feel-included face of someone 
trying to prove tie's one of us/ 

- Rachel Lehmann-Haupt 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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hortly before dawn on a dismal, rain-drenched winter morning 
Pm heading out of Helsinki along Highway 3, into the heart of 

Finland, This obscure nation is an underpopulated wilderness 
sandwiched like a DM2 between Russia and Sweden, extending 
all the way up into the Arctic Circle, The sun barely sets here 
in the summer, while in the winter, it barely rises. I can't imag- 
W ine why anyone would visit Finland in the dark months, unless 
motivated by some strange need to go skiing in perpetual twilight 
... but my grueling pilgrimage has nothing to do with snow. Fve 
come in search of a singular individual, a reclusive, elusive Russian 
emigre scientist named Eugene Podkletnov, who claims that he can 
defy the force of gravity. 

Five years ago, while testing a superconducting ceramic disc 
by rotating it above powerful electromagnets, Podkletnov noticed 
something extremely strange. Small objects above the disc seemed 
to lose weight, as Lf they were being shielded front the pull of Planet 
Earth. The weight reduction was small - around 2 percent - but 
nothing like this had ever been observed before. If the shielding 
effect could be refined and intensified, the implications would be 
immense. In Fact, practical, affordable gravity nullification could 
change our lives more radically than the invention of the internal 
combustion engine. 

Imagine a future in which vehicles can levitate freely. 

Highways and railroads become obsolete, airplanes no longer 
need wings, and oceangoing ships can be broken up for scrap, indus¬ 
tries in which large masses have to be transported or supported - 
from mining to construction - are revolutionized. Citizens gain 
unprecedented mobility, transcending all geographical and national 
harriers. 

Meanwhile, space travel is now safe, cheap, and fast. Resources 
can be mined in the asteroid belt and shipped to factories relocated 


in orbit around Earth, freeing our planet from pollution and green¬ 
house-gas emissions. Ultimately the old dream of colonizing other 
worlds may be realized, not just for a handful of highly trained 
astronauts but for millions of everyday people. 

Far-fetched? Indeed. Most physicists laughed at Podkletnov’s 
report. Riley Newman, a professor of physics at UC Irvine who has 
been involved in gravity research for 20 years, typified the reaction 
when he commented, “I think it’s safe to say gravity shielding is not 
conceivable.” Like many scientists, he felt that Podkletnov must have 
made a mistake, measuring magnetic fields or air currents instead 
of genuine weight reduction. 

And yet, few of Podkietnov’s critics actually bothered to read his 
description of his work. Their reaction was so dismissive, it almost 
sounded like prejudice. From their perspective he was an outsider, 
a nonmember of the “gravity establishment.” They couldn't believe 
that a major discovery in physics had been made by such a no-status 
dilettante fooling around at some obscure lab in Finland. 

True, Podkletnov wasn't a physicist - but he did have a doctorate 
(in materials science) and he knew how to do careful lab work. 
When he wrote up his results, his papers were accepted for pub¬ 
lication in some sober physics journals, and at least one theoret¬ 
ical physicist - an Italian named Giovanni Modanese - became 
intrigued. Modanese didn't dismiss the whole idea of gravity shield¬ 
ing, because on the subatomic level, we simply don't know how 
gravity functions. “What we are lacking today,” according to Moda¬ 
nese, “is a knowledge of the microscopic or 'quantum' aspects of 
gravity, comparable to the good microscopic knowledge we have 
of electromagnetic or nuclear forces. In this sense, the microscopic 
origin of the gravitational force is still unknown ” At the Max Planck 
Institute in Munich, he developed a theory to explain the shielding 
phenomenon. 

In the United States, scientists affiliated with NASA were think¬ 
ing along similar lines. They obtained funding to replicate Pod- 
kletnov’s experiment - but still the skeptics remained cynical and 
unimpressed. The concept of gravity shielding has an aura of science- 
fictional weirdness; it sounds like something out of The X-Fiks, 
Indeed, Podkietnov's experiment was actually mentioned in an 
episode of The X-FUes, virtually guaranteeing that most scientists 
wouldn't take it seriously. 


Charles Platt (cp@panix.com), a frequent contributor to Wired, 
wrote “Plotting Away in Margaritaville” in Wired 5.07. 


WIRED MARCH 19 98 


m® 








Miper- 

conducting 

ceramic discs 

rotated above 

electromagnets 

shield small objects 
from the 

PUll of 

Planet 

Earth. 

Podkletnov now claims that his results have been verified by 
researchers at two universities - but he won’t name these people 
for fear that they'll be ridiculed and ruined by the gravity establish¬ 
ment The team at NASA make no secret of their work - but they 
have no definite results, yet* And so, at this time, the only creden- 
tialed scientist claiming to have witnessed gravity modification is 
Podkletnov himself* 

For almost a year I’ve been wrestling with this story, which is a 
journalistic nightmare, because nothing can be verified* Podkletnov 
may fiave made one of the great breakthroughs of the 20th century, 
or he may be suffering from a severe case of hubris coupled with 
wishful thinking. In darker moments I wonder if he even exists; the 
whole gravity story could be a prank by a bunch of hackers using a 
fake email address and a Finnish phone number that autoforwards 
calls to a dorm at MIT* 

These thoughts run through my mind as I pull off Highway 3 
into a rest area, crack a screw-top bottle of Vichy water, and check 
my map* IPs now an hour after dawn, but the light is still so dim, 
the scenery outside is all in shades of gray - as if Pm trapped inside 
a monochrome TV with the brightness control stuck near zero. In 
Finland in the winter, when the sky is totally choked with clouds, 
the country becomes one big sensory-deprivation tank* 

On the car radio some nameless station plays authentic American 
bluegrass, except that the lyrics are in Finnish, which is a head¬ 
bending experience, the last thing I need right now* Still, having 
come 5,000 miles I am determined to see this through* In just a few 
hours 1 am scheduled to meet Eugene Podkletnov in person, in the 
town of Tampere, where his gravity-modification experiments took 
place* I will verily, if nothing else, that he does exist **. assuming 
of course that I can/bid Tampere in this drizzle-soaked wilderness 
of undifferentiated gloom* 


potential for spaceflight almost a centuiy ago in his classic novel 
The First Men in the Moon, and Wells also foresaw an avalanche of 
applications on Planet Earth, creating an uneasy conflict between 
pure science and pure greed* In his novel, a lone mad scientist says 
he isn’t in it for the money; he just wants some recognition, and 
maybe a prize or two* But then he starts to realize just how much 
money could be involved. “I supposehe says thoughtfully, “no one 
is absolutely averse to enormous wealth ” 

Eugene Podkletnov must be aware of this - but so far, he has 
reaped more pain than profit. After publishing a preliminary paper 
in 1992, he wrote a more thorough paper that was rejected by more 
than a dozen journals till finally it penetrated the peer-review 
process at the respected British Journal of Physics-D. This seemed 
to offer the recognition he was hoping for, yet instead it initiated 
a career-destroying nightmare. 

The trouble started when Robert Matthews, science correspondent 
to the British Sunday Telegraph , got hold of the stoiy. Matthews, like 
any journalist, relies on contacts, and he’s disarmingly honest about 
it. “You don’t get stories by digging for them,” he now says with a 
laugh. “This isn’t like Sherlock Holmes, that’s a lot of bollocks. It's 
like, you hope a little brown envelope turns up in the post, and if 
it does, you’re in lock." 

In his case the little brown envelope contained page proofs of 
Podkletnov’s paper, leaked by a man named Ian Sample who worked 
on the editorial staff of the Journal of Physics-D. Although Podklet- 
hoy’s paper hadn’t been published yet. Sample and Matthews 
decided to break the story in the Sunday Telegraph, which printed 
it on September 1,1996* The first sentence was key: “Scientists in 
Finland are about to reveal details of the world’s first antigravity 
device” 

Antigravity? Podkletnov never used that word; he said he’d found 
a way to block gravity. Maybe this seemed a trivial distinction, but 
not to the staid professors at the Institute of Materials Science in the 
University of Tampere, to whom “antigravity” sounded like some¬ 
thing out of a bad Hollywood movie* 

The director of the institute promptly denied any involvement 
and declared that Podkletnov was working entirely on his own ini¬ 
tiative* Then the coauthor of Podkletnov’s paper claimed that his 
name had been used without his knowledge - which was highly 
implausible, but he stuck to his story, presumably because the insti¬ 
tute told him to. In the end Podkletnov had to withdraw the paper 
from publication in the journal, he was abandoned by his friends, 
and his credibility was impaired. 

At this point I obtained Podkletnov’s phone number in Tampere 
and gave him a call. He turned out to speak fluent English but was 
reluctant to say anything, claiming that irresponsible journalism 
had ruined his career. I gave him various assurances, faxed sam¬ 
ples of my work, made more calls - and finally, on November 10, 
1996, he gave me a telephone interview. 


WIRED MARCH 1 V9 S 




He told me how he had made his discovery. “Someone in the 
laboratory was smoking a pipe ” he said, “and the pipe smoke rose 
in a column above the superconducting disc. So we placed a ball* 
shaped magnet above the disc, altached to a balance. The balance 
behaved strangely. We substituted a nonmagnetic material, silicon, 
and still the balance was very strange. We Found that any object 
above the disc lost some of its weight, and we found that if we 
rotated the disc, the effect was increased ” 

1 had no way to evaluate the truth of this, so I contacted John 
Cramer, a physicist who was familiar with the story, “I don’t believe 
he has discovered a shield for gravity,” Cramer told me, insisting that 
huge amounts of energy would be required, 

I checked back with Podkletnov. “We do not need a lot of energy” 
he said, sounding irritable, as if I were wasting his lime with dumb, 
obvious questions, “We don’t absorb the energy of the gravitational 
field. We may be controlling it, as a transistor controls the flow of 
electricity. No law of physics is broken. I am not one crazy guy in 
a lab, we had a team of six or seven, all good scientists” 

So who should l believe? Maybe if 1 met Podkletnov in person, 

I could assess his plausibility - hut a few days later, he told me this 
was impossible. In fact, be said, he had decided that he wanted no 
further publicity of any kind. 

This put me in an impossible position. Podkletnov had talked 
to me, originally, because I pledged to publish nothing about him 
without his consent. Now that he had withdrawn! his consent, 

I simply had to honor my pledge. Temporarily at least, 1 abandoned 
the story, 

“We may he 

controlling 

the gravitational field. 

as a transistor controls 

-flow 

of electricity," 
says Podkletnov. 

No 

law of 

physics 

is 



Italian physicist, Giovanni Modanese, who seemed to know where 


Podkletnov was hiding, but Modanese just confirmed that the reclu¬ 
sive Russian still wouldn’t talk. Finally, by chance, I read a Usenet 
message from a 54-year-old software developer in Oregon named 
Pete Skeggs, who turned out to he a pivotal figure in a newly emer¬ 
gent Net phenomenon: the gravity-enthusiast underground. 

Skeggs had a BS in electrical engineering, a BS in computer sci¬ 
ence, and he loved to tinker with things. In his own little work¬ 
shop he had tried to replicate Podkletnov’s experiment using some 
homemade electromagnets and a 1-inch superconductor that he 
ordered from the Edmund Scientific mail-order catalog for US$24.95. 
He didn’t get any results, but decided to start a gravity-modifica¬ 
tion Web page. Soon it was a huge repository of abstracts, specula¬ 
tion, and references, along with reports of work by other amateurs, 
some of whom claimed amazing results. A man named John 
Sehnurer, at Antioch College, Ohio, said that his homemade setup 
could reduce the force of gravity by 2 percent on a reliable, repeat¬ 
able basis. 

1 sent email to Sehnurer; he replied enigmatically, refusing to 
divulge his home or office phone numbers and insisting that I must 
page him, after which he would call me back. On September 17,1997, 
he returned one of my calls. 

Aged 45, Sehnurer said he had a “strong science background ” 
though he admitted he had no college degree. He claimed to have 
coauthored “more than 12 peer-reviewed papers” and had spent 
“more than nine years providing tech support for Armstrong Aero¬ 
space Medical Research Labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” 
where they liad been trying to find ways for pilots to control air¬ 
planes via brainwave sensors. “We had a flight simulator,” Sehnurer 
said, “You could sit in it and make it roll with your brainwaves” 

1 Lowever, he’d been laid off in 1995 because of budget cuts, and lie 
was frank about his current problems. “I don’t have any money” he 
said. “Most of my equipment 1 built myself, or borrowed, or resur¬ 
rected.” Still, he claimed that his redesigned version of Podkletnov’s 
setup was working on a routine basis and could be used onboard 
Earth satellites to make small orbital corrections. 

Was Sehnurer for real? lie agreed that 1 could visit him, so 1 
arranged for Wired photographer Norman Mauskopf to meet me in 
Ohio, A couple of days before my trip I contacted Sehnurer just to 
check that there were no snags, and he assured me his apparatus 
was still up and running. “I have enough liquid nitrogen for one 
run, maybe two,” he said. 

This made me suspicious. Two demos would be just enough to 
show 1 some results, while preventing a more thorough investigation. 
1 sent email asking Sehnurer to obtain more liquid nitrogen. I even 
told him that if he didn’t have enough money. I’d pay for it myself. 


broken." 


OTQ 






























The liquid 

nitrogen 

boils violently at 

room temperature. 


w 


‘Now! says Schnurer, 

lowering the 

target mass 


in the 

Dewar flask. 


Two hours later, he called me. “Can you wire me the cash via 
Western Union?” he said. “1 need $150,” 

Well, Td been dumb enough to make the offer, and 1 was deter¬ 
mined to witness a thorough trial; so I sent the money. Two days 
later I was in a rented car with Norman Mauskopf, driving across 
the flat farmland of Ohio to Antioch College, just south of Dayton. 

We found Schnurer in a hue old red-brick residence with white- 
painted casement windows and a big front porch. This turned out 
not to be his home; the place had been divided into offices. Schnur- 
er's workshop was in a long, thin sunroom where a white-painted 
wooden bench left barely enough space for people to squeeze past 
each other. The bench was strewn with components, tools, com¬ 
puter circuit boards, books, and looseleaf binders. At the far end 
stood the Gravity Modification Machi ne. 

A long wooden rod was pivoted on a nail, supported by a wooden 
yoke glued to a block of plywood. A piece of string dangled from one 
end of the rod, tied around a lump of scrap metal. At the other end 
a tangle of fine wires ran down to some coils underneath a 1-inch 
black disc - a superconductor that had been donated by a local man¬ 
ufacturer, thus saving Schnurer the $24.95 charged by Edmund 
Scientific. When 1 asked why he had to economize so stringently, 
he muttered something about his family not fully sharing his enthu¬ 
siasm for gravity research. 

The wires from the electromagnets snaked back to a 12-volt 
power supply, via a “switching system” consisting of bare copper 
contacts that had to be maneuvered by hand. “You can't photograph 
that,” Schnurer said firmly. “That's an integral part of my patent 
application” 

I stared at his apparatus in dismay. Even straining my creative 
powers to the limit, clearly there was no way to portray this as cut¬ 
ting-edge science. The components looked as if they'd been salvaged 
from a dumpster. 

Schnurer, however, was eager to begin, lie showed me his “target 
mass” (a bundle of seven glass rods), which he placed ceremoniously 


on a borrowed digital scale. He noted the readout: 27 grams. Then 
he picked up a small tank of liquid nitrogen - my liquid nitrogen, 

1 realized, feeling a bit pissed about it - and he poured a portion 
into a Dewar flask. The liquid hissed like oil in a hot frying pan as 
it boiled violently at room temperature. We waited a few minutes 
for the clouds of white vapor to die down. 

“Now!” said Schnurer. He lowered the electromagnets, disc, and 
target mass into the Dewar flask, to cool the disc so that its electri¬ 
cal resistance would diminish to zero. Then he placed the lump of 
scrap metal on the scale, to read the difference in weight between it 
and the assembly in the Dewar flask. The numbers flickered wildly, 
responding to thermal currents in the liquid, air currents in the 
room, vibration from a truck passing on the road a couple hundred 
feet away, and a dozen other random factors. Still, a substantial 
weight reduction would make these small fluctuations irrelevant. 
“We’ll call the weight 20.68,” Schnurer said, scribbling the figure. 

He went to his copper contacts and started manipulating them 
to send pulses to the electromagnets. 1 watched the scale - and 
suddenly felt as if reality was warping around me, because the 
numbers began changing. According to the scale, the target mass 
urns getting lighten 

“Write down the peak value!” Schnurer alerted me. 

The numbers were still jumping, but I averaged them as well as 
I could, Schnurer grabbed his scrap of paper, did a subtraction, 
divided the result by the original weight of the target mass, and got 
his answer: here in this funky little workshop, the force of gravity 
had just been reduced by 2 percent. 

“Let me try that” I said, pointing to the copper contacts. Schnurer 
stepped aside, looking somewhat reluctant; but when l did what he 
had done, the results were the same. 

“Maybe you should take a look over here,” Norman Mauskopf 
remarked, nodding toward the superconductor where it dangled in 
the liquid nitrogen. 1 realized with chagrin that I had been totally 
hypnotized by the red LEDs on the scale. When I turned my atten¬ 
tion to the flask, I saw what I should have seen before: electricity 
flowing through the submerged coils was creating heat that made 
the frigid liquid boil, lust as eggs bounce around when you boil 
them in a saucepan, the superconductor and its target mass were 
being lifted by bubbles. We weren’t measuring gravity reduction, 
here, we were conducting an experiment in myogenic cookery! 

1 pointed this out to Schnurer. lie looked annoyed - then indif¬ 
ferent, and 1 realized that there was still no doubt in his mind, 
because he was a True Reliever. He knew he was modifying gravity. 
“So we'U lift it out of the liquid nitrogen ” he said. “It’ll stay cold 
enough for the effect to work for 15 or 30 seconds. And you'll see, 
it will still get lighter.” 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


070 






We tried it, and sure enough the assembly lost weight. But it 
bad dragged some liquid nitrogen with it from the flask, and was 
steaming madly. This was now the source of weight loss, just as 
damp clothes become lighter as they dry on a washing line. 

“John, youi’e not measuring gravity fluctuations” I told him. 
“You're measuring the effects of boiling and evaporation” 

Schnurer was now visibly agitated. He wanted to run the experi¬ 
ment again. And again. He varied the target mass, scribbled more 
numbers on odd scraps of paper - after a while there were so many 
scraps, he lost track of which was which. For several hours he tried 
every conceivable configuration. 

While waiting patiently to see how long it might take him to admit 
defeat, I noticed a page from Business Week lying on his workbench. 
It was an article about gravity modification, mentioning Schnurers 
work, illustrated with a photograph taken right here in this cramped 
little hobby-den - although false color and a wide-angle lens made 
the place look like a futuristic laboratoiy. Then I scanned the text 
and realized that this writer possessed the creative powers that I so 
sadly lacked. He seemed cautious and objective yet made Schnurer 
sound like a fully qualified scientist, even identifying him as “dir¬ 
ector of physics engineering at Antioch College.” 

I queried Schnurer about this. Gruffly he told me that he has 
never been employed by Antioch University; his workshop just 
happens to be near Antioch. With several partners, he rims a 
very small company named Physics Engineering, of which he’s a 
director. Only in this sense can he be termed a director of Physics 
Engineering. 

Around 9 p.m., we called it quits. I didn’t enjoy being a heartless 
skeptic, questioning John Schnurer's credentials and debunking 
his dreams of refuting Einstein. I just w anted to go home. 


For additional information: 

Pete Skeggss gravity 
information page: 

wwwJneta rena x om/=iutilLc/pls/iraviiv.fum I 

James Woodward's 
mass-reduction theory: 

www. np I. w »s hi nglD n .edit/ AW a I tvw83.htm I 

Antigravity mailing list: 

www. i n-sea rch -of. c om/ 

John Schnurers Gravity Society: 

www.flraviiv.org/ 

NASA's breakthrough propulsion 
physics program: 

www. ta rc, n a sa .g □u/WWW/b pp/ 


ack in New York, three pieces of email from John Schnurer 
were already waiting for me. With urgent sincerity he claimed there 
had been a series of unfortunate errors. The superconductor had 
become degraded! The results I’d witnessed were invalid! He begged 
me to return to Ohio right away, to witness a whole new series of 
experiments with a brand-new disc. 

Well - thanks, but no thanks. I didn’t relish another session of 
Skeptic versus True Reliever. 1 felt sure that it wouldn’t work out 



any better the second time around, and it wouldn’t make either of 
us very happy. Instead, I followed up another reference from the 
indefatigable Pete Skeggs, and learned the strange history of NASA’s 
involvement in gravity-shielding research. 

In 1990 a senior scientist at the University of Alabama named 
Douglas Torr started writing papers with a Chinese woman physi¬ 
cist named Ning li, predicting that superconductors could affect 
the force of gravity. This was before Eugene Podkletnov made his 
observations in Tampere, so naturally Li and Torr were delighted 
when they heard that Podkletnov had accidentally validated their 
predictions. Their university enjoyed a good working relationship 
with the Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, where they 
eventually persuaded NASA to start a serious long-term investiga¬ 
tion. Ning Li remained involved, while Douglas Torr relocated to 
South Carolina. 

Skeggs now forwarded to me an amazing document suggesting 
that Torr had ventured into even stranger territory. The document 
was Antigravity News and Space Drive Technology', an amateur zine 
that looked like a 1970s counterculture manifesto, generated on an 
old daisywheel printer, pasted into pages, photocopied, and stapled 
down the left edge. This science-oriented samizdat was a 190 ► 


WIRED MARCH 1 9 9 S 














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+ iso pain from their daughter's death. 

But when Walken explained his cloning 
experience at the primate center, and added 
the idea of implanting the baby's DNA in 
a donated egg from another woman - one 
who had borne healthy children - the cou¬ 
ple started to come around. By the next 
afternoon, they had decided to try it. “They 
explained the procedure to us and said 
that they needed to start work as soon as 
possible to make sure our daughter's DNA 
was fresh and undamaged - that she was 
still, in a sense, 'alive' in her genes, but 
lost without a body," says Virginia Hytner. 
“Amanda and Adam made me and my 
husband believe that they could give our 
daughter back her body” At that point, the 
Hytners were sworn to secrecy. 

The team of five doctors - Koteas, Walken, 
Mortensen, Stoltz, and Gomez - plus a 
handful of trusted graduate student assis¬ 
tants, set to work culturing the child’s cells, 
chemically returning them to their embry¬ 
onic state using samples of the advanced 
demethylating drugs Walken had procured 
from the primate center According to 
Koteas, they also “obtained” frozen human 
eggs from the gene clinic, checking them 
again and again for the donor's history and 
any possible disease traits. 

After fusing a dormant cell nucleus with 
a donor egg, the doctors jolted the egg with 
electricity to see whether it would divide. 
After only 10 tries, an egg started dividing 
normally, and Koteas implanted it in Vir¬ 
ginia Hytner. 

Over the next nine months occurred one 
of the most closely watched pregnancies on 
record. All five doctors on the cloning team 
made trips from Pennsylvania to California 
to monitor Virginia Hytner's progress. By 
then the Hytners were already calling the 
growing fetus Katy, a name they’d selected 
for their first child, who they later started 
to think of as Katy's lost twin. In fact, the 
university team had already coined the 
term serial twins to refer among themselves 
to the products of the cloning process. 

In late November 1999 Virginia and 
Christopher Hytner took leaves of absence 
from work and, accompanied by Walken, 
flew to Philadelphia one more time. At 
i a.m. on December 5, Katy Hytner was 


delivered by Dr. Albert Gomez via cesarean 
section. The team was elated, and the Hyt¬ 
ners were speechless, “Our daughter was 
returned to us,” says Christopher Hytner. 
“It was the miracle we'd prayed for” 

Since their work had not been approved 
by the university, the cloning team kept 
all their records confidential, hidden in a 
filing cabinet in Koteas's office. Still sworn 
to secrecy, the team went back to its work 
at the university and the Hytners returned 
to California with Katy. Team members 
still made regular monthly visits to Pacifica 
to check on mother and child, who both 
appeared healthy and safe. The reality of 
the unprecedented experiment remained 
protected from public scrutiny for almost 
two years. 

Then, last November, a chain of events 
began that revealed the Hytners' secret, 
Alice DeWitt, a graduate student who 
had worked on the cloning team screen¬ 
ing donor eggs, filed for divorce from her 
husband. During the stormy divorce pro¬ 
ceedings, Matthew DeWitt found a set of 
notes - copies of papers Alice had given to 
Koteas - while he was removing his wife's 
belongings from their apartment. Matthew, 
himself a pediatrician, recognized the 
implications of the notes and offered them 
through his lawyer for sale to the highest 
bidder. 

When news crews from the Hard Copy 
cable network began scouring preschools 
in Pacifica for Katy Hytner, the members 
of the University of Pennsylvania cloning 
team knew they had to make a public 
announcement. “We could see how T things 
were going ” says Koteas, “HCTV was turn¬ 
ing Katy's birth into a Frankenstein story, 
portraying her as some frightening freak of 
science. As had as things are now, we knew 
that if we didn't get hold of the story, the 
Hytners' lives would be ruined forever.” 

Koteas's press conference was beamed 
live around the world on CNN, MSNBC, 
HCTV, C-Span, and all 10 major broadcast 
networks. By then, the Hytner family had 
left Pacifica, and if anyone on the cloning 
team knows the family's whereabouts, they 
aren't saying. 

Aside from the media, a number of other 
interested parties would like to find the Hyt¬ 
ner family - among them Baby Gap, Pepsi, 
Benetton, and the Xerox Corporation, isi ► 


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Now that human cloning has moved 
from science fiction films and research 
labs to the real world, what are we to 
make of it? No one seems to know yet. Dr. 

G. Richard Seed's operation, which moved 
from Chicago to San Jose, Costa Rica, in 
mid-1999 in response to pressure from the 
US government, has generated some inter¬ 
esting new approaches to large-scale cell 
culturing and fine DNA manipulation, 
but the facility has yet to bring any of its 
attempted pregnancies to term. Most of 
the European Union's member nations 
have passed strict laws preventing human - 
cloning work, though England and Ger¬ 
many remain holdouts. But it’s generally 
known that Russia, Japan, and South Korea 
are setting up their ow r n experimental 
cloning centers, perhaps in cooperation 
with Seed's lab. 

One of the few unambiguous responses 
so far to Katy Hytner’s birth has come from 
the Vatican, which released a statement 
urging people to recognize that clones have 
individual souls, even if they occupy iden¬ 
tical bodies. LiUle else about what some 
are calling the Philadelphia Project is cer¬ 
tain, even whether Katy is, in fact, a legiti¬ 
mate clone of her dead sibling. 

Since she was produced in an egg that 
carried another woman's mitochondria, 
some scientists, including geneticists 
at MIT and Oxford University, question 
whether Katy 7 can be truly considered 
a done of the Hytners 5 first child. Perhaps 
the term serial twin is about to become 
common currency as Koteas and her 
colleagues try to calm a nervous public 
that, while admiring the motivations and 
technical skill of the cloning team, isn't 
sanguine about letting this genie out of 
the bottle. 

"No one's about to start mass-producing 
copies of Adolf Hitler or rich people," 
assures Koteas. "This is one little girl - 
deeply loved by her ordinary mother and 
father. Trust me. There’s nothing to worry 
about." ■ ■ ■ 



Dr Janet Barron contributed research to 
I this article. 


Seed 

+ 150 cell. That's the type most susceptible to 
breast cancer in humans. What if we took that 
differentiated, cancerous cell and, after making 
copies of it, tried maybe hundreds of different 
DMA manipulations of it? Isn't it possible that we 
could turn that cell back to its earliest divisions? 

To the beginning of its life, before it became can¬ 
cerous? With the technique they worked out in 
Scotland, you can set the cells back to division 
zero. If we succeeded in doing that, we'd have a 
cure for cancer right now. Maybe this won't work, 
but you don't even think about these concepts 
until you seriously start thinking about the sci¬ 
ence of human cloning. 

"And if you didn't get all the cancer cells the 
first time, you could conceivably repeat the treat¬ 
ment indefinitely. I can't see any side effects from 
this, certainly when compared with chemotherapy. 
If it worked, you could work on techniques for any 
cancer you could name - and, of course, AIDS. 

It's currently forbidden to use federal money to 
do human-embryo research; embryos are essential 
for this work. We'd like to fund it ourselves. But 
this type of experiment is so dramatic that the 
prohibition must be lifted for the kind of experi¬ 
ment I just described. It won't do any good to do 
these experiments in monkeys. You have to do 
them in humans. The technological and informa¬ 
tion benefits from human cloning will be far more 
significant than the cloning of humans itself. 

I'm not saying I have any instructions from God 
to do this, but I am saying that it's the nature of 
Protestant thinking. People are dying every day, 
and they need sympathy. This is the pastor's role. 
But in the Protestant era, when anyone could 
read the Bible and think about it, Christians were 
able to read and think for themselves, without any¬ 
one between them and their idea of God. When we 
attain an extended life span and access to unlim¬ 
ited knowledge, we wilt become Godlike. And that 
is God's intention. Some people think this idea is 
an excessive belief. My pastor is a little bit uncom¬ 
fortable with my beliefs. He doesn't endorse my 
position - maybe he does 5 or 10 percent. 

With an extended life span, I'd engage in the 
same human activities I've always engaged in. 

I'm not unhappy with what I've done in my life, 

I might be able to take on experiments that 
take longer to conclude - something that I know 
I won't be able to answer for 10 , 20 , or 30 years. 
I've tried retirement. Twice. Wow, boring. 

Cloning is inevitable. If I don't do it, someone else 
will. There's no way you can stop science." m m m 




□ 80 















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Legion of Doom 

< isb quality level designers. To overshadow the 
poor imitations, id produced its own compendium 
called "The Doom Master Levels." The company 
recruited four celebrity Doom heads - Kvernmo, 
Anderson,Tim Willits,and Tom Mustaine. 

This was the start of a Cambrian-like explosion 
in the professional evolution of the level designer. 
Until then, despite their professional-quality work, 
they were essentially consumers. They were hum- 
ble. They dreamed of doing it for a living, but no 
one really believed it would happen to them. 

To the contrary, all four would interview for 
their dream job: a full time position at id. 


T he last time Kvernmo visited id Software, 
he recounts, he collided head-on "with greed." 
Carmack had just offered to hike his salary 
considerably if he jumped ship. Concentrating on 
dollar signs rather than stop signs, Kvernmo was 
broadsided by a sedan on his way home. He stayed 
with Ion Storm, but it wasn't an easy decision. 

id is, after all, the place where it all began. 
Inside the black building - in suite 666 - resides a 
14-strong team including the most highly regarded 
game developers in the world. Here sits John 
Carmack, pale, 27, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. 

The soft, carpeted offices are quieter than they 
used to be. In the game biz, the personality of 



John Anderson, 
aka Dr Sleep, 
left a job at the 
Pennsylvania 
Department nf 
Public Welfare 
tn design 
Oaikatana's 
clnssical Greek 
death arenas. 


the dominant player In the group trickles down. 
At Ion Storm, Romero's troops impersonate their 
general - shouting words like "dumbass" and 
"hardcore." At id, it's quiet - coder quiet, Carmack 
quiet, key-tapping and hushed conversations. 
The words here are "sweet spot" and "ship date." 

Carmack's not surprised that so many "ama¬ 
teurs" are being hired. It makes good business 
sense; fully trained mapmaking ninjas with years 
of experience, no previous salary to barter with, 
and a passion for their job. The talented people 
shine like beacons. 

Accordingly, all the top Doom Babies have been 
courted by id. And a few years ago, they would 


have blinded themselves for the chance. Says 
Anderson:"lt seemed inconceivable that we 
would turn them down." 

But only Tim Willits took the job. In 1995 he 
was at the University of Minnesota, studying com¬ 
puter science and business; he might have been 
the little guy you used to kick around at school. 

Now payback means buying a 199? Porsche 
with cash and plummeting you through six floors 
into a lava pit lined with nails. And then there's 
his office - nice furniture, comfy chairs, and two 
computers. This used to be Romero's office. 

"I spent months working with Romero in here 
- picked his brain," says Willits, hired in '95 to 
shore up id's design team when things started 
to go pear-shaped during Quake 1 s development. 
Strife turned to acrimony after the game was 
released. Romero was fired. "He was a great guy, 
but a shitty manager/'concludes Willits. 

After Romero's departure, they took away the 
pool table and the foosball. Deathmatching was 
even banned in id's office during crunch time. 
The team was too busy knuckling down on Quake IL 

"After Quake II we re washing our hands of it," 
explains Carmack. "We're onto other things. Let 
everyone else fight it out over content." 

Those fights will feature, among other things, 
Quake Il f s considerably ramped-up gore - the fine 
sprays of blood, the imploding walls of cartilage, 
and the airborne body parts that actually glisten. 
Vet Willits isn't worried, though they're his walls 
being splattered with ichor. For him, level design¬ 
ing is an underappreciated art form. He's molded 
frightening realism from the rawest of raw mate¬ 
rials - triangles and pixels. "It's all about form, 
shape, and style rather than textures and walls, 
about conveying feeling to the player/' He looks 
suddenly serious."We're working with incredible 
technology here. And John's good. John's the 
pimp. There's no one like Carmack." 

Except, maybe, Romero. Two generals, two 
camps, two sets of talented foot soldiers. 

"There's some sniping about who's doing what 
and all that, and when people start treading on 
each other's release dates, then it gets a bit ugly," 
admits Carmack. "But even if Ion Storm is a spec¬ 
tacular success, we'll probably make more money 
than anyone there makes off it, because we've 
got a big chunk of the royalty." 

L ate at night, in the Ion Storm penthouse, 
the community has gathered to watch the 
Fourth of July fireworks. 

Despite the rivalries, and the Romero-vers us- 
Carmack thing, the Doom Babies still get along. 


Even in this deranged city, they've maintained 
the sense of community from the CompuServe 
days. Then, they were united under a frontier 
mentality, working to push the open system 
to its limits. Now they get paid to compete. 

Still, they share a vision borne by Doom . 

And they see inspiration everywhere. Every 
book, film, and real-life Dallas landmark and 
eyesore is examined, mentally photocopied, 
and rendered in Quake-o-vision. A conversa¬ 
tion between two Doom Babies goes some¬ 
thing like this; 

"Hey, look at that balcony " 

"Yeah, nice ivy texture." 

"What happens when it joins the wall there?" 
"Nothing. It's seamless." 

"Wow." 

"You're standing in the bathroom, pissing/' 
says a Doom Baby appropriately called Levelord, 
"You're looking at the wallpaper and you notice, 
on the corner, it doesn't line up. And you think, 
'Couldn't they spend the time to line that up?' 

I do it in my levels/' 

You can see why most of the Doom Babies 
spurned id. Romero is romantic, organic. Talent 
is the passport to his Game as Open System - 
your only resume is your level, or your 3-D model, 
or your new evisceration animation. At id, things 
Carmackian are mechanical, planned, and meti¬ 
culous. Productivity is the key to his Game as 
Machine. Sure, Carmack hits the Quake II Christ¬ 
mas deadline, while Romero watches Daikatana 
slip until April. But working at Ion Storm isn't 
a job, it's a daily visit to an amusement park. 

id is unconcerned. Carmack is working on his 
next engine - code-named Trinity - which will 
bring even more realism to the desktop. He's 
unworried by rival technology. First-class devel¬ 
opers like Epic MegaGames and 3D Realms are 
working on next-generation front ends. Even 
Microsoft, it seems, is hankering to muscle in on 
the open-game posse with the DirectEngine, 
which was coded by Monolith Productions. 
"They're all a year behind," Carmack says, adding 
with a hint of uncharacteristic sarcasm, "and like, 
I'm supposed to be scared of Monolith " 

Atop Ion Storm, you have to squint to see the 
fireworks flare on the horizon, it seems the Com¬ 
merce Tower is too tall, too high in the clouds. 
Disappointed, the crew departs to play a death- 
match, leaving only the security guard on the 
roof. Asked if he plays Quake , the guard chuckles, 
"I don't need to. I've got 70 handguns and 150 
rifles. I’m mad " 

Crazy place, Dallas, m m m 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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Hack the Magic 

4 168 One thing Disney can't control is the 
weather - which is not to say that it doesn't 
scrutinize the skies over Orlando as carefully as 
any air traffic control center. One Centra! Console 
screen shows a radar image of the property, as 
well as current data about wind speed, tempera¬ 
ture, and rainfall. Says Blackwell:"We keep an eye 
on the weather in case we need to cancel outdoor 
shows or shut down certain attractions like the 
Skyway," a gondola that runs between Fantasy- 
land andTomorrowland/The decisionmaking is 
guest oriented/' he goes on/We want to keep 
things operating as long as we can/' 

Blackwell, who began his career at the Magic 
Kingdom as a 15-year-old balloon vendor on 
Main Street nearly a quarter century ago, explains 
that there's a merchandising consideration, too: 
the weather station allows the Central Console 
to warn the dozens of shops around the park so 
they can set out Mickey umbrellas and bright 
yellow ponchos before the first raindrop fails. 

As he talks, it becomes dear that the Disney 
"cast member" structure is a case study in the 
networked system.Though Blackwell's baili¬ 
wick is engineering, he takes pains to point out 
earnestly that "shelf space is very valuable - it 
wouldn't make sense to have rain gear out on 
a sunny day." 

Weather is similarly on the minds of a crew 
of horticulturists, stationed In a nondescript 
bungalow south of the Magic Kingdom, who are 
responsible for keeping 3,500 acres of impossibly 
lush landscaping looking that way/Landscaping 
is very Important to the show," Scott Shultz, a 
horticulture area manager, tells me, adding in 
the same tone of earnestness that guests would 
have a hard time believing they were steaming 
down the Amazon without a suitable rain forest 
or strolling along Hollywood Boulevard without 
towering palm trees. 

Shultz and two other horticulturists operate 
MaxiCom, a computerized irrigation system 
made by Rain Bird. Based on input from the 
weather stations, MaxiCom's PC-based software 
determines how much water each of the proper¬ 
ty's 600 zones needs. Each has up to 10 individu¬ 
ally watered beds; when a message comes in from 
the gardeners that a row of azaleas at Disney- 
MGM Studios is drying out, the horticulturist will 
Increase the amount of water delivered there 
each night.When a torrential rainstorm passes 
over the property, the MaxiCom system adjusts 
by watering less - about 50 automated rain cans 


that measure by hundredths of an inch are scat¬ 
tered around the property and plugged Into the 
network. "Every morning at 1:25, we download 
the data to duster control units (CCUs) situated 
around the property/says Shultz.The CCUs man¬ 
age the sprinkler timers, which govern 50,000 
sprinkler heads between them. Shultz's crew also 
prowls the property daily in a van equipped with 
a laptop and cellular modem, troubleshooting 
the whole system - one of the most sophisticated 
large-scale irrigation setups anywhere. 

Then there's the Muzak. 

Back In Engineering Central, a rack of Sony CD 
players handles background music for the King¬ 
dom, keyed to the six different Lands, as well as 
to different times of day.The music - hillbilly 
banjo picking for Frontierland, for example- 
travels via dedicated lines to weatherproof 
speakers hidden throughout the park. But first 
it's filtered through a sophisticated switcher- 
router system that lets Disney's programmers 
create "events" - or miniature programs - that 
fade the musk in or out as necessary. 

Engineering Central's Crown IQ computerized 
sound system also controls overall audio volume 
throughout the park/People absorb noise, and 
they create noise of their own," Blackwell notes. 
"As the crowds come in through Main Street and 
the morning progresses, we subtly increase the 
sound of the background music so it doesn't get 
drowned out" 

Across the room from where we're sitting is 
a cramped,closet-sized space that looks like a 
cross between a recording studio and a surveil¬ 
lance bunker - Parade Central. Inside, a colorful 
map of the park fills one monitor; another has 
a bird's-eye video view down Main Street from 
the top of Cinderella Castle. A huge mixing board 
dominates the desk, where a single technician 
orchestrates the twice-daily parades that are a 
Magic Kingdom staple. 

Audio specialist Jim Dotson sits down and 
starts an imaginary parade."We fire the event by 
phone," he says, loading the parade data into the 
system from a Digital Equipment VAX mainframe. 
"As the parade progresses, the audio cross-fades 
from zone to zone. So you hear different music 
based on where you're sitting and what float is 
In front of you/ 

It's a major feat of synchronization, and easier 
said than done.To make the musk from speakers 
on the floats match the music from 175 speakers 
along the parade route, the first thing the system 
needs to know is the minute-to-minute location 
of the floats. It gets that from "pucks" embedded 


in the street that communicate with each vehicle; 
each float also signals its precise location by 
counting the number of wheel revolutions it 
makes. Parade Central's monitors show tiny, color- 
coded float icons inching through the park: red 
if things are moving too fast, green for too slow, 
and gray for normal. When an icon turns black, 
that's a bad sign. It means a float has gotten 
stuck in,say, the trolley tracks that line Main 
Street. A tractor - waiting on standby, of course 
- is dispatched by radio to make the rescue. 

The audio track itself is separately stored on 
each float, using NuOptics EPROM-embedded 
chips.The route is divided into 33 separate 
zones, with the playback coordinated by a DTMF 
(dual-tone modulation frequency) code broad¬ 
cast from the top of Cinderella Castle/That 
makes sure that the cross-fades are hitting at 
the right time as floats move from zone to zone," 
Dotson says. 

On a lot of vehicles - say, the Little Mermaid 
float, which features Sebastian the crab singing, 
talking, and waving his arms- the audio also has 
to be synced with the character.The answer: 
SMPTE time codes - the same Society of Motion 
Picture of Television Engineers codes used to 
match up images and sound in TV and movie 
production. Here they control not just the music 
and animatronks, but also, indirectly, the float 
drivers and performers. 

And what about, say, midparade downpours, 
a regular occurrence during summer afternoons 
in central Florida? "We just click an icon, and the 
parade bypasses alt its production numbers and 
just goes straight from point A to point B/'says 
Dotson."We try to avoid water damage to the 
costumes and floats." 

Even software sprinkled with pixie dust can 
get buggy. Not long ago. Parade Central's moni¬ 
tors showed some floats speeding up and pass¬ 
ing others in midprocession, which definitely 
was not happening on the ground/We had a 
meeting to debug it," Dotson explains,"and we 
figured out that in the staging area where the 
floats line up, just behind Town Hall on Main 
Street, some of the drivers would park their 
floats out of order.Then, when the parade was 
ready to start, they'd move around and get into 
position. All the while, the VAX was reading the 
wheel rotations, and the extra revs meant the 
second float was way ahead of the first. We had 
to scour the logs to figure out what was going 
on and take care of it/ 

As he's talking, Smith's and Black well's beepers 
go off. {The pagers are, of course, emblazoned 


WIRED MARCH } 99 8 


D&S 






with Mickey Mouse icons; both the paging and 
telephone system are run by Disney's own Vista- 
United Telecommunications.) Smith looks down 
at the alphanumeric display."Curtain's broken 
at Bear Band" - shorthand for Frontierland's 
Country Bear Jamboree.The notice is just a for¬ 
mality - technicians from Attractions West (one 
of several administrative zones in the Magic 
Kingdom) have already been dispatched to the 
scene. During the day, two dozen maintenance 
people make sure all the shows stay 102 (online). 
At night, when the bulk of maintenance and 
upkeep is done, the staffing jumps to 85. 

Blackwell and I head out through the broken 
biometric door and down the Utilidor toward 
Tomorrowland/The day shift and second shift 
are focused on keeping the attractions running 
and the guests safe/' he says/'At night, we 
address show quality and do inspections and 
adjust the animation. So, during the day, in 
spurts, it's fast and furious - responding to emer¬ 
gencies. At night, it's routine maintenance."The 
PA in the tunnel is playing Bachman-Turner 
Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business"; no "Whistle 
While You Work" for this crew. 

he story line of Alien Encounter, which 
debuted as part of a revamped Tomor- 
rowland in 1995, is one of Disney's old 
standards: technology gone awry,The 
conceit is that a new teleportation device, devel¬ 
oped by the Orwellian XSTeth Corporation, is 
being demo'd for the audience. In the preshow 
area, it accidentally sizzles over a lovable, fuzzy 
alien. Inside the auditorium, it misfires again, 
beaming down a drooling carnivore (audto- 
animatronic, actually) instead of the glad-handing 
CEO of XS Tech.The teleportation device fails 
once more before the show is over; it can't con¬ 
tain the hungry alien, who breaks out and begins 
feasting on the assembled crowd. 

in the service area below, the story is dramati¬ 
cally different: here, the technology is safe, con¬ 
trolled, and utterly predictable. For starters, there 
are several banks of 1,800-watt-per-channel 
servo-driven subwoofers that produce a low- 
frequency audio rumble. There are also trans¬ 
ducers on the seats, which periodically cause 
everything upstairs that's not bolted down to 
vibrate in sympathy with the faux alien. Jimmy 
Sizemore and Mike Jones, the technicians who 
keep tabs on the show, seem to tune it out. 
They've got bulky ear protectors handy - the 
kind airport ground crews wear - In case they 
have to enter the subwoofer dungeon when a 


show's in progress.They won't let me into the 
room when the monster woofers are in action. 
But the din - even through a set of heavy metal 
doors - sounds like an AC/DC concert without 
the treble. 

Despite the noise, it would be hard, based on 
what goes on down here, to imagine what kind 
of pulse-pounding theatrical experience is going 
on upstairs. Sizemore and Jones spend their shift 
taking care of the gear, making sure the attrac¬ 


tion stays 102. A lanky Tennessean who used to 
work in construction, Sizemore says simply, “Noth- 
ing can really prepare you for this kind of job." 

It includes keeping an eye on the 8-foot-long 
Coherent Innova laser outfit that creates many of 
the futuristic lighting effects of Alien Encounter. 
The rig requires regular recalibration, since the 
minor earthquake created by the transducers 
continually throws it out of alignment. Other 
routine tasks include checking for leaks in the 
hydraulic pumps and pipelines that supply fluid 
to the show's animatronic figures and lifts. 
There's also a lighting system fit for Pink Floyd, 
run by Omega Show Controllers, that sends 
rapid-fire cues to a set of Intellibeam control¬ 
lers that operate programmable spotlights. 

And finally, there's baby-sitting enough com¬ 
puters to run a major online service, support a 
good-sized television network, manage a multi¬ 
national bank,or, well, put on a 21 -minute show 
for a herd of tourists. 

The 7-foot racks of computer gear include a 
melange of expensive silicon that Disney's 
design arm, Imagineering, creates with the help 
of MAPO, its manufacturing group. (The latter's 
name is a play on "Mary Poppins/'intended to 
evoke the whimsy that Disney's technology 
strives to generate.) 

Blackwell, Long, and the others are squirreily 
when it comes to distinguishing between what 
Disney makes and what comes from outside 
vendors. But it's dear from the brand names on 
some of the equipment that, as Eric Jacobson, 
senior vice president of creative development at 
Imagineering, puts it, the company doesn't feel 
the need to "constantly reinvent the wheel." 
Disney's audio-animatronic figures set the stan¬ 
dard for the industry (which includes rivals like 

DaS 


Universal Studios), But the engineering ethos 
isn't about the coolest, newest technologies; 
indeed, older shows I ike The American Adventure 
still run on mag tape, a decades-old platform. 
This is showbiz, not science; reliability counts 
for a lot. And the company keeps a close eye on 
costs, normally replacing major systems only 
when an entire attraction is dosing down any¬ 
way for rehab. 

Alien Encounter, which replaced Mission to 


Mars, is part of the new generation. It's built 
around what Disney calls a show-supervisor 
unit - an SSU, to the people who run it - a rack¬ 
mounted system that coordinates lighting, 
smoke effects, audio, and video screens. The 
machine also manages three SI Us - show- 
interface units - one that controls the brief 
preshow and one for each of the two side-by- 
side sit-down theaters.There are EPROMs to 
store digital audio,as well as MAPO-designed 
MFSCs (multifeedback servo cards), each of 
which can control up to eight functions on an 
animatronic figure.The whole performance is 
synchronized using SMPTE generators from 
Gray Engineering Labs; programmable logic 
controllers monitor various functions for failure. 
Backstage, Disney prefers that its technology 
not go awry. 

M isney may be classified by stock ana- 
lysts as an entertainment company, 
■9 but it has been hovering around tech¬ 
nology from the start, 70 years ago: sound mar¬ 
ried to animation in Sfeomfrotff Willie , new 
camera setups invented for Fantasia, the most 
sophisticated robot built to date (a faux Abe 
Lincoln) for the 1964 New York World's Fair. 

That said, Disney is decidedly not into releas¬ 
ing bug-ridden beta versions, a policy that 
becomes dear on a visit to Test Track, the General 
Motors-sponsored Epcot thrill ride that was sup¬ 
posed to open to the public in the spring of last 
year, it's now expected to open in time for this 
summer's crowds. 

Development on this ride is exhaustive and 
expensive.That's classic Walt. According to Bob 
Thomas's 1976 biography, Wait Disney: An Ameri¬ 
can Original, Disney told one of the original ibb ► 

WIRED MARCH 1990 



There are enough Computers to run an online 
service, manage a multinational bank, or put on a 
21-minute show for a herd Of tourists. 





Hack the Magic 

+187 Imagmeers/'You and I don't worry about 
whether anything is cheap or expensive. We only 
worry if it's good,! have a theory that if it's good 
enough, the public will pay you back for it. fve 
got a big building full of all kinds of guys who 
worry about costs and money. You and I just 
worry about doing a good show." 

The Test Track concept is a bit daunting: guests 
serve as crash-test dummies in a high-speed 
reenactment of automobile safety and perfor- 

What the "guests" get ■ 


mance tests. No one will talk about why the 
debut is so far behind schedule, but rumors vari¬ 
ously have it that the tires are wearing out too 
quickly, the track needs more control zones, or 
the Imagineers keep adding new flourishes. 
Getting a show like Test Track ready involves 
running various components nonstop until 
glitches emerge. On the upper level of the ride, 
there's a set of sliding doors that open and close 


so fast - zip, snap, like a camera shutter - that it 
takes us a few cycles to realize that outside the 
doors, it's pouring rain. During this part of the 
ride, the vehicle will appear to be performing a 
collision test with the wall, speeding up and then 
- seemingly - bashing right into a barrier. In 
reality the vehicle will slip through the door so 
quickly, accompanied by dramatic audio and 
visual effects, that riders will think they actually 
busted through the wall. 

A technician is sitting in a folding chair near 
the doors, reading a copy of USA Today and wait¬ 


ing to see whether anything breaks. Every 10.5 
seconds the doors open - zip, snap. Says project 
engineer Jerold Kaplan/'You can't just walkout 
to Joe's Fast-Operating Door Warehouse and find 
doors that open in half a second - at least that 
we know of. So we built this ourselves, and that 
means that we need to test it for reliability our- 
selves.'The doors seem to be working fine so far. 

Once Kaplan and his crew are convinced that 


the ride is problem-free and ready to run, they'll 
summon groups of cast members from around 
the property to be guinea pigs.Then they'll do a 
"soft"opening, allowing guests to ride for a few 
hours a day.That gives engineers a chance to 
make any final adjustments - and attendants to 
become proficient at loading the vehicles with 
their human cargo, 

t's hard to imagine a more problem- 
free piece of the planet than Walt 
Disney World. A massive fleet of mono 
rails, buses, ferry boats, and trams transport 
150,000 people to and from the three major 
parks on a busy day. Each entrant is sold a mag¬ 
netically coded piece of paper {to register with a 
networked turnstile), then fed, entertained, cor¬ 
ralled, bombarded with experiences, and sold 
merchandise (the average daily spending per 
visitor is $52). When Disney asks its guests about 
the quality of their experience, fewer than 2 per¬ 
cent rate it "below average/' 

What guests get, and by all accounts are sub- 
liminally attracted to, is an environment where 
nothing is left to chance.The fact that Disney 
exercises just as much control over its guests as 
its hardware is turned to advantage - not least 


and, by all accounts, 
are subliminally attracted to - is an environment 

where nothing is left to chance. 



Intense. 

UNCOMPROMISING. 
FULL OF CHARACTER. 


IT DESCRIBES OUR WINES 
AS MUCH AS IT DOES 
THE PEOPLE 
WHO MAKE THEM. 



It takes passion, as well as talent and dedication, to create wines of elegance and 











because this coercion is as invisible as the com¬ 
puter terminals themselves. In all three Florida 
parks, for example, there's a camera shop on the 
right as you enter in the morning ("Hey, we need 
to get some film!") and souvenir shops on the 
right as you exit at the end of the day ("Hey, let's 
get a Pluto T-shirt for the dog-sitterl'TThe place¬ 
ment of these shops is decidedly not arbitrary; 
park designers operate on the principle that 
most people are right-handed and thus favor 
that side as they walk.The most popular rides, 
meanwhile, are located at the park perimeters 
for the same reason that supermarkets stock milk 
in the back of the store: people will buy food and 
souvenirs along the way, as well as try other 
rides, further filling Disney's coffers and spread¬ 
ing out the crowds. 

But Disney planners are wary of making things 
too efficient.The right amount of waiting in line 
helps build anticipation, whether for a spin with 
Dumbo the Flying Elephant or a 13-story near- 
freefall drop in the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 
And if guests could flit easily from ride to ride, 
they'd be done with a park around lunchtime. 
The longer they stay, the more they spend (an 
estimated $5 billion overall in 1997).The most 
valuable visitors are those who stay in one of the 


parks 1 26 Disney-owned hotels. The company lets 
them into the parks an hour early.lt also sched¬ 
ules parades for midafternoon, when people 
might be tempted to head back to their hotel 
for a swim or a nap. And it seduces tired families 
into lingering past dark with spectacular fire¬ 
works displays. 

The fireworks show at Epcot uses 26 comput¬ 
ers that control music, strobes, lasers, fountains, 
and the ignition of 750 aerial shells, candles, 
comets, and mines. Like parades at the Magic 
Kingdom,everything is synchronized using the 
SMPTE time code, ensuring that the CD players 
in a room beneath Future World sync up with 
the independent lighting computers at each of 
World Showcase's 11 pavilions, not to mention 
the four launching barges that float in the 
lagoon. 

"We call it a kiss goodnight," says fireworks 
production manager Bernie Durgin, 

Atop the Mexico pavilion, a team of techni¬ 
cians monitors the show, keeping an eye on the 
weather radar. If the winds in the area exceed 
20 miles per hour, they'll load a different version 
of the show into the computers - one that elimi¬ 
nates some of the high-flying shells. They're also 
on the lookout for low-flying aircraft, in which 


case they turn some of the lasers off. As with the 
rest of Disney's attractions, cast members like 
Durgin do frequent show-quality reviews to 
make sure the pyrotechnics are up to par. 

Disney is also doing some pushing on the 
pyrotechnic front - Durgin's group is looking into 
building microprocessors into the shells to con¬ 
trol their detonation postlaunch, with just a 10- 
millisecond margin of error. "If you were able to 
synchronize the music and the pyrotechnics, you 
could create some interesting effects,"he says 
excitedly. But then, lest I get the wrong idea, he 
hastens to add that this is not technology for 
technology's sake. "The idea is to be able to cre¬ 
ate and evoke feelings and emotions within an 
audience," he assures me. 

The funny thing is, I actually believe him, even 
after I've ventured into the illusionists'private 
quarters and have their trade secrets revealed 
Something strange is going on at Walt Disney 
World: technology has transcended the actuators 
and SSUs and muttifeedback servo cards.The 
hardware and software have dissolved into the 
background, like the Cheshire cat. What remains 
is a virtual world - illusions on top of technology. 
And as advanced as the gadgetry gets, it's still 
the magic that draws us in.n ■ ■ 



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Gravity 

^177 hopeless muddle of wacky ideas and 
grandiose claims, but on its back cover it 
reproduced an announcement from the 
Office of Technology Transfer at the Univer¬ 
sity of South Carolina, 

Incredibly, this text described a “gravity 
generator” that would create & force beam 
in any desired direction. The announcement 
concluded: “University seeks licensee and/or 
joint development* USC ID number: 96140 P 
At the bottom of tbe page was a phone num¬ 
ber for William F. Littlejohn at the Office 
of Technology Transfer, so I called it, and 
reached an assistant named Frances Jones* 
Sounding not very happy, she confirmed 
that the announcement was genuine. “But 
Mr. Littlejohn says it was presented pre¬ 
maturely, it got wider distribution than we 
intended, and we’re - still working on the 
technology, and would prefer not to receive 
any publicity” 


1990), and he even managed to get a US 
patent For his device (number 5,280,864, 
issued January 25, 1994). 

I called him at his office at Cal State 
Fullerton, where he’s heen affiliated for 25 
years and is currently an adjunct professor 
of physics* He lurned out to be a jovial, ami¬ 
able man who was more than willing to talk 
on the record, probably because his work 
has remained so obscure, no one lias had a 
chance to ridicule it yet 

The equipment he uses is relatively sim¬ 
ple, which is just as well, since he’s had to 
pay for a lot of it himself. If you want to 
reduce the mass of an object in the privacy 
of your own basement workshop, here’s how 
it’s done: Obtain a high tech ceramic capaci¬ 
tor (a standard electronic item) and attach it 
to the speaker terminals on a stereo amplifier. 
Feed in a steady tone (perhaps from one of 
those stereo-test CDs) while using some 
kind of electromechanical apparatus (maybe 
the guts from an old loudspeaker) lo vibrate 


Practical applications oi mass reduction 


could be within five years, says James Woodward - “if someone decided 


to put in substantial 


amounts of money." 


She refused lo say if Douglas Torr was 
involved, but on the university’s Web site 1 
found an Annual Report to tbe Faculty Sen¬ 
ate which listed his name on a patent appli¬ 
cation for the gravity generator. This was 
totally bizarre; a respected university sup¬ 
posedly looking for commercial partners lo 
develop a gadget straight out of a 1950s sci¬ 
ence-fiction novel* Surely, nothing could be 
weirder than this - but no, there was more 
in store. Through my physicist friend John 
Cramer 1 learned of a scientist named James 
Woodward who claimed to have found a 
way to reduce the mass of objects* 

“Mass” doesn’t mean the same thing as 
“weight” You’d weigh less on the moon than 
on the Earth, because weight depends oil the 
force of gravity. Mass, on the other hand, is 
an innate property of matter; it exists even 
when an object is in free fall* Nevertheless, 
Woodward had written a paper claiming 
that he could adjust the mass of an object 
(Foundations of Physics Letter's, vol* 3, no* 5, 


the capacitor up and down. According to 
Woodward, the capacitor’s mass will vary at 
twice the frequency of the signal, so you will 
need a circuit called a frequency doubler to 
drive your vibrator at the correct rate. If the 
vibrator lifts the capacitor while it’s momen¬ 
tarily lighter and drops it while it’s heavier, 
you achieve an average mass reduction - 
which sounds as if you’re getting something 
for nothing, except that Woodward believes 
that in some mysterious fashion you are 
actually stealing the energy from the rest 
of the universe. 

1 asked him why no one had ever noticed 
that the weight of capacitors varies in rhythm 
with their energy level* “Well ” he said, 
“people don’t normally go around weighing 
capacitors ” 

He claimed that so far he’s measured a 
reduction of up to 150 milligrams; just a frac¬ 
tion of an ounce* Still, practical applications 
could be developed, “If someone decided to 
put substantial amounts of money into this, 


you could have something within three to five 
years* For spacecraft, all you’d need would 
be big solar arrays instead of rocket fuel,” 

1 asked him if there was any chance that his 
discovery might turn out lo be bogus, like cold 
fusion. “Of course!” he said, laughing cheer¬ 
fully* “l have biweekly paranoia attacks, and 
then I try something else to see if 1 can make 
this effect go away. But, it won’t go away” 

I asked his opinion of the team at NASA. 
“Serious and competent, sensible folks " 
he said - though he seemed to find gravity 
shielding a bit implausible, even compared 
with mass reduction. 

Clearly, it was time to call NASA, 1 con¬ 
tacted David Noever, a theoretical physicist 
and former Rhodes scholar who started 
working with NASA in 1987 after getting 
a PhD at Oxford University, England* He 
seemed to be the key figure trying to repli¬ 
cate Podkletnov’s work, and he invited me 
lo see for myself. 

Marshall Spaceflight Center is a box- 
shaped 10-story office building with a 1960s 
pedigree. The closer I came, the shabbier it 
looked; when 1 walked up the front steps, 

I noticed cracks between the faded gray pan¬ 
els of its facade. Alas, poor NASA! Formerly 
the favorite child of federal legislators, now 
nickd-and-dinied half lo death. Upslairs 
I found utilitarian government-style offices 
with cheesy rubberized floor tiles, ancient 
gray steel desks, and file cabinets that seemed 
Lo have been repainted by hand. The place 
was almost Soviet in its austerity, 

I entered the office of Whitt Brantley, chief 
of the Advanced Concepts Office, and found 
five people waiting around a wood-grain 
formica conference table. David Noever was 
one of them: a tall, brooding figure with 
intense eyes and dark brown hair in need 
of a trim. Behind a desk at the far end sat 
Brantley, a genial Santa Claus who joined 
NASA hack in 1963, when he worked on 
von Braun’s wildly ambitious scheme to 
put men on Mars, before the Apollo pro¬ 
gram had even test-launched its first cap¬ 
sule. Even this seemed relatively normal, 
though, compared with gravity shielding. 

I asked him how he had raised the money 
for such a wacky idea. 192 ► 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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Gravity 

^ i*o “The first research proposal l wrote 
didn’t have the word ‘gravity 1 in it anywhere” 
he said with a grin. “Then the Sunday 
Telegraph article came out, and our admin¬ 
istrator, Goldin, was going to a Star Trek 
convention where the Trekkies might ask him 
about gravity modification, so we decided to 
tell him what was going on. He backed up 
a step or two, then said he thought NASA 
should spend a little money on work like this. 
So, we wiped the sweat ofT our brows and 
continued” 

Tony Robertson, another member of the 
team, leaned forward, a lot younger and 
more earnest that Brantley, “The way I see 
it” he said, “NASA has a responsibility to 
overcome gravity.” 

“Right" said Brantley. “We’ve been build¬ 
ing antigravity machines since day one - it’s 
just that they’re not as efficient as we'd like 
them to be.” 

Everyone chuckled at that. 

“It’s true we’re pushing the edge” Brantley 
went on. “But the only way to guarantee you 
don’t win the lottery is, don’t buy a ticket ” 

l turned to David Noever, who looked tense 
and restless, as if he’d rather be in his labo¬ 
ratory. I asked how he felt about amateur 
gravity enthusiasts. “Well, we went to visit 
.John Schnurer” he said. “But he wouldn’t 
let us in. We had to meet him outside on a 
park bench. We also invited PodMetnov to 
come to Huntsville, back in January 1997. We 
said we’d pay his way, but he said he didn’t 
see any value in it." 

“It’s not uncommon for people to distrust 
NASA ” said Brantley, “because we’re part of 
the government. They think even if we did 
discover something, we’d cover it up. You 
know, Roswell and all that - w 

By this time. Noever was definitely ready 
to go. “Let’s show you the labhe said. 

He led the way outside to an enclave of 
austere, ugly concrete buildings that looked 
as if they might have been left over from 
World War IT. Inside, past massive machinery 
for pressing ceramic discs, I entered a lab 
about 20 feet square, with one wall of win¬ 
dows, fluorescent ceiling panels, big white 
cylinders of liquid helium and liquid nitro¬ 
gen, and heavy-duty rack-mounted power 
supplies in rectangular metal cabinets. 

Noever exp lamed that the team is Hying 


several different approaches. He showed an 
assortment of 1-inch superconducting discs, 
made from every conceivable mix of ingre¬ 
dients. He demonstrated a gravimeter: a 
beige-painted metal unit the size of a car 
battery. Across the room was a tall insulated 
tank about a foot in diameter, with a huge 
coil w rapped around Lhe base capable of tak¬ 
ing 800 amps, though Noever said that the 
current would create enough heat to melt 
the floor. The tank had been designed to con¬ 
tain a 6-inch disc rotating in liquid helium, 
with the gravimeter suspended above. 

Meanwhile, the team was still struggling 
to fabricate 12-inch discs, which tend to 
fracture into pieces during pressing and a 
subsequent baking process. “This is what 
Podkletnov says is the heart of the matter” 
said Noever, “learning to make the discs. 

He said it could take us one or two years. 

He did reveal the composition 

But not the step-by-step method for pro¬ 
duction? 

Noever laughed sourly. “Of course not. 

At least, he hasn’t told ns. He’s very adamant 
about not talking to people about some 
aspects of this work.” 

Already, though, Noever said he had 
achieved some possible results with smaller 
discs. He showed one graph that suggested 
significant changes in gravitational force. “We 
only saw this a couple of times. We have to 
see it 100 times before we’ll allow ourselves 
to reach any conclusions. And then we’ll get 
the Bureau of Standards in here to check it 
out, and then, maybe, we’ll publish a paper.” 

Noever suggested that gravity may have 
a natural frequency, far higher than X rays 
or microwaves, which would explain why it 
penetrates all known materials. A supercon¬ 
ducting disc could resonate and downshift 
the frequency to a Lower level where it could 
be blocked by normal matter. “But this is all 
very speculative,” he cautioned, adding that it’s 
just one of three theories that could explain 
gravity shielding, 

Ron Koczor, project manager of the team, 
had been sitting over at one side of the lab 
looking amiable but diffident. Koczor’s back¬ 
ground is in infrared and visible optics; his 
last project was a space shuttle experiment 
to measure winds in Earth’s atmosphere 
using specially designed lasers. By compari¬ 
son, gravity shielding research is a labyrinth 
of uncertainties. 


“In Lhis kind of research you go from 
depression to elation, sometimes just from 
hour to hour,” said Koczor. “But if this is 
real, it’s going to change civilization. The 
payoff boggles the mind. Theories about 
gravitational force today are probably com¬ 
parable to knowledge of electromagnetism 
a century ago. If you think what electricity 
has done for us since then, you see what 
controlling gravity might do for us in the 
future” 

l_ 

yet another message to Giovanni Modanese, 
asking again if Eugene Podkletnov was will¬ 
ing to talk to me. Naturally I didn’t expect 
a positive reply - but to my amazement 
Modanese wrote back saying Lhat Podkletnov 
had returned to Finland and was now ready 
to cooperate. 

I called Podkletnov right away. Yes, he said, 
it was true; he would talk. I could meet him 
in person. 

Four days later I w r as boarding a Fiimair 
MD-tl. Nine hours after that I found myself 
in Helsinki Airport, waiting for my baggage 
to come off a carousel. About 200 Finns were 
waiting with me, looking stoic and withdrawn, 
like guests at a funeral. The only sound 
was the clanking of the conveyor belt, and 
I remembered a phrase from the Lonely 
Planet travel guide that Fd read on the plane: 
“A happy, talkative Finn does not inspire 
admiration among fellow Finns, but rather 
animosity, jealousy, or hostility. Being silent 
is the way to go." 

Outside, it was almost noon but looked 
like dusk. “Winter is the most hopeless 
time, when many people are depressed ” 
my guidebook warned me. In fact, back in 
the early 1970s a Finnish scientist named 
Erkki Vaisanen discovered SAD - seasonal 
affective disorder, the type of depression 
caused by lack of sunlight. He was tipped 
off by the rash of suicides that sweeps 
through Finland every September. 1 began 
to wonder why Podkletnov had chosen to 
relocate here. 

I drove to a grim little industrial park 
(where all the buildings were painted gray, 
as if to emulate the weather) and checked 
in at a Holiday Inn that looked like a i*4 ► 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


D9Q 






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Gravity 

+192 small electronics factory. After exiting 
an elevator paneled in stainless steel, 

I struggled to open a massive metal fire 
door, walked past a sauna, and unlocked my 
tiny Euro-style room. Shortly before sunset, 
around 4:30 in the afternoon, l did some 
serious channel surfing in a dutiful attempt 
to locate and comprehend the core, the quin¬ 
tessence of Finland, 

The first thing I found was an ancient 
episode of hey-hey-we're-the-Monkees resus¬ 
citated from some godforsaken video archive 
and dubbed in French, “puree que nous 
rnonkee around, 75 Then there was a 1990 
Hong Kong action movie, dubbed in German, 
subtitled in Finnish - maybe Swedish, it was 
hard to tell, 

Finland's identity was proving elusive, 
and I could think of at least one reason why, 
A key factor could be the 1,300-kilometer 
frontier that the country shares with Russia. 


How did the Finns cope with the ominous 
presence of that notoriously expansionist 
superpower during the fearful decades of 
the Cold War? They suppressed then 1 sepa¬ 
rate national identity. They made their polit¬ 
ical system close enough to communism 
to placate the Politburo, and they traded 
actively, selling the Russians cheap wood 
products and electronic devices such as 
telephones. Thus, they made themselves far 
too useful to be worth invading. 

Interestingly, the policy of appeasement 
paid dividends, Finland enjoys steady 
growth, with inflation down near 1 percent. 
It exports telecommunications products to 
the rest of Europe and steals shipbuilding 
contracts from the Japanese. Its infrastruc¬ 
ture looks well maintained. Its people seem 
healthy. Thus, Eugene Podkletnov’s pres¬ 
ence here is not such a mystery after all. 
Compared with Russia, Finland is a land 
of opportunity. 


A 

I Mud so, finally: Tampere. 

As l drive in on Highway 3, the first thing 
I see is a huge smokestack and a rail yard 
with mercury-vapor lights on steel towers. 
Another smokestack stands in the distance, 
trailing a white plume. Although the popu¬ 
lation is under 200,000, this is still the sec¬ 
ond-largest city in Finland, and a haven for 
industry. 

Opposite the railroad I find the Hotel 
Arctia, where Podkletnov has agreed to 
meet, since he feels that his “modest apart¬ 
ment building 35 is not suitable. 

In a slightly rundown lobby paneled in 
varnished plywood, I sit on a couch uphol¬ 
stered In drab gray wrinkled fabric and wait 
as patiently as I can, very conscious that 
I have come 5,000 miles on this far-fetched, 
far-flung pilgrimage - at which point a man 
in a navy blue pinstriped business suit walks 
into the lobby. 


This is Eugene Podkletnov, 

He looks strangely similar to NASA scien¬ 
tist David Noever, with sharp features and 
a restless intensity. Close up, though, his 
face shows a poignant mix of emotions. His 
mouth twists quixotically a! the corners, 
as if, at any moment, he may display some 
unexpected response - pathos, laughter, or 
resignation. 

He sits beside me on the rumpled gray 
couch, and I ask why he decided to talk to 
me after al most a year of evasion, “You 
seem sincere, 55 he says, choosing his words 
cautiously, “and you are polite, and He 
smiles faintly. “Yon are very persistent.” 

But lie's not interested in small talk. He 
pulls out a wad of papers and starts a long 
monolog. 

First, he tells me, his work has been repli¬ 
cated by students in Sheffield, England, and 
scientists in Toronto, Canada. No, he w r on 5 t 
give me their names. He consulted by phone 


with the Sheffield students, and he went in 
person to Canada, where he stayed for sev¬ 
eral weeks. “If people follow my experiments 
exactly” he says, “they succeed. But if they 
want to follow their own way He shrugs. 
“1 try to cheer them up, let them do it, they 
may find things that I missed” He sounds 
skeptical - sarcastic, even - and ! think he J s 
referring to the NASA team. 1 wonder if 
there's a trace of Russian jealousy, here; a 
suspicion that well-funded Americans will 
stamp “NASA” on the side of the first fully 
functional grav-modtfying flying machine, 
at which point everyone wilI forget about 
Eugene Podkletnov. 

He claims, though, he's happy to share 
the glory. “What we should do is combine 
our efforts and organize the Institute for 
Gravity Research, My aim in life is not to 
get money, not to become famous. I have 
30 publications in materials science, and 
10 patents, but His mouth twists with 
bittersweet humor. “Russian people are 
never rich unless they are criminals. I don't 
dream about big money. I just want a nor¬ 
mal existence, working for the Institute for 
Gravity Research. That is my dream.” 

He speaks rapidly and shows no hesitation, 
not the slightest sign of doubt, 1 gel him to 
stop and back up a little, to tell me about 
his history. 

He says that his father was a materials 
scientist, while his mother had a PhD in 
medicine - just as he, now, is a materials 
scientist with a wife who is studying medi¬ 
cine. “My father was born in 1896, he spoke 
six languages freely, he became a professor 
at Saint Petersburg, we had the atmosphere 
of scientific research al home all the time. 

I was brought up surrounded by adults, 
spent veiy little time playing with friends 
in school, and even now I feel dif ferent from 
colleagues my own age. My father had sev¬ 
eral inventions in his life, but at that time 
the Russians asked him like this: 'Does this 
method exist in the United States? 7 My father 
answered no, so they said, 'Then this must 
be entire nonsense? 55 Again Podkletnov gives 
me an ambiguous smile, tainted with bitter¬ 
ness. “Finally when he got a patent in the 
United States and Japan, then they gave him 
a patent in Russia” 

Eugene graduated with a master's degree 
from the University of Chemical Technology, 
Mendeleyev Institute, in Moscow; then mm* 


Gravity may have a fl3tUml f rGljUGVtCy. 
says NASA’s David Noever, far higher than X rays or microwaves - 

which would explain why it penetrates all known materials. 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


D9Q 






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CORRESPONDENT- MfflWE ABC NEWS 

GREGORY M.SWAYNE 

VICE CHAIRMAN Si CO-FOUNDER * A.D.A.M. SOFTWARE 

ALEXANDER TSIARAS 

CREATOR - ANATOMICAL TRAVELOGUE 

KIRBY GA OSBl IRON 

GENERAL ELECTRIC CORPORATE RESEARCH ft DEVELOPMENT 


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Gravity 

m 194 spent 15 years at the Institute for High 
Temperatures in the Russian Academy of 
Sciences. In 1988 Tampere University's Insti¬ 
tute of Technology invited him to pursue a 
PhD in the manufacture of superconductors, 
and after he obtained his doctorate, he con¬ 
tinued working there - until the Sunday 
Telegraph news item appeared in 1996. 
Suddenly he was abandoned by his friends, 
unemployed, and fighting the scientific 
establishment much as his father had fought 
with the Russian government, except that 
in his case the stakes were higher, because 
he believed he had made one of the major 
discoveries of the 20th century. 

Feeling beaten down and alienated, 
Podkletnov says he gave up in 1997 and 
drove the 1,400 kilometers hack to Mos¬ 
cow, Leaving his family in Tampere. Rut 
Moscow was not a good place for a scien¬ 
tist to be. In the 1980s he had been able 
to borrow equipment freely from other sci¬ 
entists; in 1997, when he asked for some¬ 
thing they would say, “How much can 
you pay me?” 

“Russians claim they are happy now 
because they have freedom,” Podkletnov 
tells me, “but they are not happy, and they 
are not free. If you criticize the govern¬ 
ment, you may still go to jail. If you call an 
ambulance, it does not come. If you call the 
police, they do not come. Even criminals 
complain that they were better off under 
communism. College professors are trying 
to live on $200 a month in a city where 
prices are almost as high as in New York, 
and salary payments are delayed by six 
months. So - 1 returned here. I have a job, 
now, in a local company, as a materials sci¬ 
entist. It only uses perhaps 5 percent of my 
abilities, but He shrugs. 

He insists that he isn't embittered. “It is 
good for a person to be unsatisfied in some 
way” he says. “You should be happy in fam¬ 
ily life but not satisfied in your surround¬ 
ings. This is a source of progress. We have 
a proverb ill Russia: The harder they beat 
us, the stronger we become ” He gives me 
his twisted smile. “The only problem is, 
maybe they beat me so much, I never have 
a chance to use the strength ” 

I ask how people at his laboratory would 
characterize him. 


“They say always that I am too serious. 

You understand, here today, I am trying to 
speak with humor to make your job easier. 
But in general I am a very determined per¬ 
son, very precise in everything. I don't smile 
when I am working. When I work, I work” 

I ask him what happened to his equip¬ 
ment at Tampere University. 

“Part of it is still there, but they don't work 
with superconductors any longer, and I am 
not allowed to come to the institute. But still, 
I can show you the outside of the building.” 

We walk out into the dark gray afternoon. 
“Now you are going to be a veiy brave per¬ 
son,” says Podkletnov, “to ride in a Russian 
car.” He unlocks a maroon Lada, which looks 
like a cheap version of an old Volvo. With 
another key he removes a metal clamp link¬ 
ing the clutch and brake pedals - a low tech 
security device. 

But Pve been told that Finland has a low 
crime rate. “Yes,” Podkletnov agrees, “this is 
true. Still, there may be Russian immigrants 
around ” 


1 can't tell if he's serious or joking. 

The car's seat backs are almost vertical, 
enforcing a rigid military posture. We drive 
out to the university campus, which is un¬ 
compromisingly modern - and of course, 
the buildings are all in shades of gray. 

Back in the hotel lobby Podkletnov shows 
me detailed diagrams of the experimental 
equipment that he used. “We measured the 
weight in every way,” he says, adamantly 
denying that air currents or magnetism could 
have caused spurious readings. “We used 
metal shielding, we used nonmagnetic targets, 
we enclosed the target in a vacuum - we 
were very thorough ” 

He claims that he placed a mercury 
manometer (similar to a barometer) over 
the supeFconducting disc and recorded a 
4-nun reduction in air pressure, because the 
air itself had been reduced in weight. Then 
he took the manometer upstairs to the lab 
above his and found exactly the same result 


- as if his equipment were generating an 
invisible column of low gravity extending 
upward indefinitely iuto space, exactly as 
H. G. Wells described it almost a century ago. 

At NASA, David Noever feels that gravity 
reduction should diminish with distance. 
Podkletnov, though, has proved to his own 
satisfaction that the effect has no limit; and 
if he's right, a 2 percent weight reduction 
in all the air above a vehicle equipped with 
gravity shielding could enable it to levitate, 
buoyed up by the heavier air below. “Pm 
practically sure,” Podkletnov says, “that 
within 10 years, this will be done.” He gives 
me a meaningful look. “If not by NASA, then 
by Russia ” 

But wait; there’s more. He has news that 
hasn't been reported elsewhere. Despite 
the hardships in Moscow, during the past 
year he says he conducted research at an 
unnamed “chemical scientific research 
center” where he built a device that reflects 
gravity. Supposedly it's based around a 
Van de Graaff generator - a high-voltage 


machine dating back to the earliest days of 
electrical research. “Normally there are two 
spheres,” he explains, “and a spark jumps 
between them. Now imagine the spheres 
are flat surfaces, superconductors, one of 
them a coil or O-ring. Under specific condi¬ 
tions, applying resonating fields and com¬ 
posite superconducting coatings, we can 
organize the energy discharge in such a way 
that it goes through the center of the elec¬ 
trode, accompanied by gravitation phenom¬ 
ena - reflecting gravitational waves that 
spread through the walls and hit objects on 
the floors below, knocking them over” 

And this, too, can have practical applica¬ 
tions? 

“The second generation of flying machines 
will reflect gravity waves and will be small, 
light, and fast, like UFOs. 1 have achieved 
impulse reflection; now the task is to make 
it work continuously.” 

He sounds completely sober, serious, 202 ► 


Tying machines will reflect gravity waves - 


says Podkletnov. “i have achieved 


like UFOs - 
impulse reflection; 


now the task is to make it work continuously." 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


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Gravity 

^196 matter-of-fact 

If he really wants knowledge to he freely 
shar ed, why hasn't he written more about 
this? And why hasn’t he been more open 
with the people at NASA? 

“I'm a serious person. If someone wants 
serious work, I can provide this. If I was to 
relocate in the United States, I would need 
five or six people and two years in a univer¬ 
sity or well-equipped technical laboratory. 

I guarantee, if I am invited, I can reproduce 
everything. But 1 am not selling my experi¬ 
ment piece by piece. If your readers are 
serious, they will be able to find me” 

So here's a unique opportunity for the 
venture capitalists out there. Track down 
the elusive Eugene Podkletnov, make him 
an offer he can't refuse, and help to free 
humanity from its pedestrian existence at 
the bottom of a gravity well. 

Does Podkletnov really believe that this 
will come to pass? lie seems to. Does he see 


himself playing a central role? “I am not a 
very religious person” he tells me. “But I do 
believe in God. and of course there is a soul, 
you can feel it.” He pauses, trying to convey 
his convictions. “Most of all,” he says, “like 
afl Russians, 1 have a sense of destiny. This 
is a secret of the Russian soul that can’t be 
explained to foreigners. Even Russian peo- 
pie can't understand it. But - we feel it ,” 

At the end of our meeting he strides out 
of the hotel lobby, as brisk and purposeful 
as an ambitious businessman, looking 
younger than his 43 years. I’m impressed 
by his intense focus, his strict attention to 
facts and details, and his sincerity. 1 wonder, 
though, if a vague sense of destiny is really 
enough to get him where he wants to go. 
The history of science is littered with casu¬ 
alties who ventured too far from the main¬ 
stream, or seemed a bit - wacky, for their 
time. Nikola Tesla is a classic example. Even 
Robert Goddard, the legendary rocketry 
pioneer, was scorned and forced to work in 


isolation and poverty for most of his life. 

As one physicist told me, “New ideas are 
always criticized - not because an idea lacks 
merit, but because it might turn out to be 
workable, which would threaten the repu¬ 
tations of many people whose opinions 
conflict with it. Some people may even lose 
their jobs.” 

The man who said this is an eminent 
physicist who started devising equipment to 
detect gravity waves 30 years ago. Despite 
his secure tenure and respected status, he 
still wouldn’t let me quote him by name, 
because he suffered in the past when he 
promoted radical concepts of his own. 

Bob Park is a physics professor at the 
University of Maryland, When he's pressed 
to say something about Podkletnov's work, 
he comments: “Well, we know that we 
can create shields for other fields, such 
as electromagnetic fields; so in that sense 
I suppose that a gravity shield does not 
violate any physical laws. Still, most scien¬ 
tists would be reluctant to conclude any¬ 


thing publicly from this” Ironically, Park 
has made a name for himself by debunking 
“fringe” science in a weekly column for 
the American Physical Society 's Web page. 

If scientists are reluctant to “conclude 
anything publicly” it's partly because they 
know they may be stigmatized by critics 
such as Park. 

Of course, reflexive conservatism isn't 
the whole story. Many physicists are skep¬ 
tical about gravity shielding because they 
believe that it conflicts with Einstein’s gen- 
eral theory of relativity. According to George 
Smoot, a renowned professor of physics at 
UC Berkeley who collaborated on an essay 
that won a Gravity Research Foundation 
award, “If gravity shielding is going to be 
consistent with Einstein’s general theory, 
you would need tremendous amounts of 
mass and energy. It's far beyond the tech¬ 
nology we have today” 

On the other hand, theories developed by 
Giovanni Modanese, Ning Li, and Douglas 


Torr portray a superconductor as a giant 
“quantum object” which might be exempt 
from Smoot's criticism, since Einstein’s 
general theory has nothing to say about 
quantum effects. As Smoot himself admits, 
“The general theory is widely revered 
because Einstein wrote it, and it happens 
to be very beautiful. But the general theory 
is not entirely compatible with quantum 
mechanics, and sooner or later it will have 
to be modified ” 

lie also says that Lhe nonlinear spin of 
gravity particles - “gravitons” - makes cal¬ 
culations extremely difficult, “When you 
add a spinning disc,” he says, “the equations 
become impossible to solve ” 

This means that gravity shielding cannot 
be disproved mathematically. Even Bob 
Park, the resident skeptic, shies away from 
describing it as “impossible” because “there 
have been things that we thought were 
impossible, which actually came to pass ” 
Gregor}’ Beuford, a professor of physics at 
UC Irvine who also writes science fiction, 
echoes this and takes it a step further. 
“There’s nothing impossible about gravity 
shielding ” he says. “It just requires a field 
theory that we don’t have yet. Anyone who 
says it’s inconceivable is suffering from a 
lack of imagination,” 

When I first started reading about gravity 
modification, 1 was skeptical. Most likely, 

1 thought, Podkletnov’s experimental pro¬ 
cedures were flaw T ed. 

A year later. I'm not so sure. Having ques¬ 
tioned him in detail for several hours, I 
believe that he did his work in a careful, 
responsible fashion. I'm no longer willing 
to write him off as an eccentric suffering 
from wishful thinking. I believe he observed 
something - although the exact nature of it 
remains unclear. 

And so, frustratingly, there's no conclusive 
ending to this long, strange story - at least 
until someone provides independent verifi¬ 
cation. In the meantime, there’s only one 
thing we can do: 

Wait. ■ ■ ■ 

Thanks to John Cramer for factual orien¬ 
tation and Robert Becker for theoretical 
background. Pete Skeggs participated in 
my visit to NASA and offered extremely 
generous help . 


“There’s nothing impossible about gravity shielding,” 

says a professor of physics. “Anyone who says it’s inconceivable 

is suffering from a lack of imagination 


WIRED MUCH 1998 







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MENTOR 



















roponte 


Message: 56 
Date: 03.1.98 

From: < nlchoiasd media, mit.edu> 
To: <lr@wjred.com> 

Subject: 


Toys of Tomorrow 


W hy would Professor Michael 
Hawley swallow a computer? 
Because he plays. He plays the piano. 
He plays hockey. He plays with ideas. 
In fact he plays with notions like 
running the Boston Marathon with 
a radio transmitter pill inside his 
stomach, from which his core body 
temperature measurements would 
be broadcast to a ny and all media 
willing to listen (Ut.www.medla.mit 
. edu/pio/marathonman /). 

The wild, the absurd, the seem¬ 
ingly crazy: this kind of thinking 
is where new ideas come from. In 


killjoys insist, is something compa¬ 
nies cannot afford, in terms of either 
money or image,Thus the duty of 
academic institutions to be, among 
other things, more playful. 

This sounds simple, but is so true: 
When people play, they have their 
best ideas, and they make their best 
connections with their best friends. 
In playing a game, the learning and 
exercise come for free. Playing pro¬ 
duces some of the most special 
times and most valuable lessons in 
life. Still, many teachers and parents 
consider the classroom and the 


Toys may be the fastest moving - 
and evolving - vehicles on the infobahn. 

The challenge: melt a Cray 
down into a Crayola. 



corporate parlance it's called "think¬ 
ing out of the box." At the MIT Media 
Lab, it's business as usual.The people 
capable of such playful thought carry 
forward their childish qualities and 
childhood dreams, applying them 
in areas where most of us get stuck, 
victims of our adult seriousness. 
Staying a child isn't easy. But a con¬ 
tinuous stream of new toys helps. 

"You get paid for this?" 

Many people accuse the MIT Media 
Lab of being a giant playpen. Well, 
they're right. It is a digital wonder¬ 
land overflowing with outrageous 
toys: all imaginable sorts of comput¬ 
ers and interface paraphernalia. 

Play, however, is a pretty serious 
business in the hands of students 
and professors like Hawley - It's 24 
hours a day, seven days a week. And 
some profound results, both scholarly 
and commercial, come out of this 
play. Of course, a few naysayers forget 
that the world has a lot more money 
than good ideas. Such behavior, the 


playground to be worlds apart. But 
are they? 

When a young child plays with 
a toy, the interaction can be magic. 
Toys unlock that magic - part in the 
toy and part in the child's head.Toys 
are the medium and the catalyst of 
play. Recognizing the power of play, 
Hawley and company are fundamen¬ 
tally rethinking toys, exploring the 
convergence of digital technology 
and the toys of tomorrow - another 
case where bits and atoms meet. 
Computers have changed almost all 
forms of work. And, since play is the 
work of children, it is time to revisit 
the tools of their trade. 

TNT: toy networking 
technologies 

The Internet is largely composed 
of desktop computers, assembled 
like the world's biggest pile of Tinker- 
toys. These days, many people talk 
of extending the network beyond 
desks and into ail sorts of appliances, 
large and small. There is no question 


that appliances like refrigerators 
or doorknobs should be networked. 
But what might happen if toys were 
networked, too? If each Mickey Mouse 
and Barbie had an IP address, their 
population would exceed that of a 
small, well-connected country. 

Every year, 75 percent of all toys 
are new, meaning newly designed 
that year. The toy Industry lives 
and dies on invention. Toys gush 
into homes every Christmas and 
Hanukkah, every birthday, and lots 
of other days besides. This tremen¬ 
dous churn rate means that toys are 
well matched to the pace of change 
in the digital world. You can and 
should put some form of computing 
in a refrigerator, but a new fridge 
enters the house only once every 
20 years. With their far faster turn¬ 
over, toys may be the fastest moving 
and fastest evolving vehicles on the 
infobahn. 

Toys of tomorrow will be net¬ 
worked. Tod ay, they rarely intercom¬ 
municate, There Is no MIDI for toys, 
no Internet link. Once tomorrow's 
powerful networks,simulators, 
and synthesizers are commonly 
interconnected through toys, a next 
generation of exquisite musical toys 
- a wonderful idea to begin with - 
will emerge. A toy piano that sounds 
like a Stein way. A baby rattle that 
conducts a symphony. Blocks that 
build a melody. Shoes that carry a 
tune (think karaoke for your feet). 
Every toy a link In a worldwide 
toy box. 

And every toy must be inexpen¬ 
sive. Today's typical toy costs about 
US$20, which means it wholesales for 
$14, and must be built for about $5, 
Forget the $1,000 computer or the 
$200 set-top box - invent a $5 com¬ 
puter that doesn't look or act like 
a computer That's a grand challenge 
for the digital industries: melt a Cray 
down into a Crayola. 


The real toy story 

Today, a conservative computer indus¬ 
try still seems determined to push 
laptops into the hands of fat-fingered 
50-year-olds, with "Net PCs" just an 
infrared click away from tomorrow's 
couch potatoes. 

Surely we can do more than that. 
Bur how? 

Hawley and others at MIT have 
been making new friends around the 
world to help invent toys.Their new 
business partners these days include 
Lego, Disney, Mattel, Hasbro, Bandai, 
Toys "R" Us, and others. Their other 
playmates are computer, communica- 
tio ns, an d ente rtai n m e nt com pa n i e s 
like Intel, Motorola, Deutsche Tele¬ 
kom, Nickelodeon, and, believe it or 
not, the International Olympic Com¬ 
mittee. Never before have the world's 
leading toy makers, technology com¬ 
panies, and sports organizations col¬ 
laborated in such a way - which is 
just terrific, because the new world 
of digital toys won't be invented by 
any one group. 

Nobody is quite sure what will 
turn up on this new road to invention. 
The program just started Stay tuned. 
But one thing is dear: Toys of tomor¬ 
row will carry some of the most 
awesome and inspiring technology 
humankind has yet created and place 
it in the hands of children. Where 
it belongs. 

Think of it this way. Being "wired" 
does not mean becoming 'computer 
literate"any more than driving an 
automobile requires becoming 'com¬ 
bustion literate "The power of toys is 
that they reach back to and shape the 
earliest years in our lives. One day, our 
grandchildren will naturally assume 
that teddy bears tell great stories, 
baseballs know where they are, and 
toy cars drive themselves with iner¬ 
tial guidance. Lucky them. ■ m m 

Next: HJ-11 


WIRED MARCH 1998 


non 





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